Her arms grew weak and numb pulling the rope
over the slimy parapet of the well,
but the water never sufficed for the man's feet

Her fingers bloodied weaving came into baskets
but her share of bread was never enough
to fill her belly's basket

She plastered cracked roofs till her shoulders broke
but no roof gave her a moment's shelter

Her fingers swelled, sewing for the entire house
but no one gave her even a thread
from last year's cotton

And now that the new crop's safe in the bales
she squats in the sun and wonders
if the poison in her aching joints
will one day reach above her head?

[Translated by Professor C M Naim]

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