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This poem is taken from PN Review 114, Volume 23 Number 4, March - April 1997.

Two Poems Tabish Khair


Arrest of the Meter-Reader

The meter-reader was a man of grey: that
Was his colour from hair to official trouser. When
He spoke, his voice fell hoarse like grey leaves.

It was not done, but he had done it before.
His grey notebook was a conjurer's wand,
The black meter box was his oyster;

Or rabbit, that he pulled out at will
To delight those who had paid the ticket.
He did things that had not been done before.

The magic of meters had become his life.
Those numbers beyond change, the oscillating disc: he
Made them human with a green smile.

When they caught him at his tricks, the magic
Had run dry. He waved his expressive hands,
...


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