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This poem is taken from PN Review 150, Volume 29 Number 4, March - April 2003.

Nine Poems Carola Luther

Census

We are afraid. A man in a pale linen
suit has come to our town, his ledger
and quires loaded onto a government
donkey. In the other pannier, is a folding
table and chair, ink in squat bottles, indigo,
carmine, sepia, jet, a selection of nibs
and a fountain pen set in a velvet box.
We see him moving towards noonday
houses with his silent companions.
It is the muscled companion who knocks.

Each day my uncle returns for his meal
covered in dust. Has he come? he asks,
and my sister mouths No from the shadow
of the well and my mother continues to wash.
At night I keep watch while my brothers
...


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