Their blistered feet do not sing songs of homecoming,
Weathered by the sun, emaciated
These half-humans, speak in strange tongues,
Syllables and inflections mouldings the words
To take the shape of the dusty highway stones
That cut through their soles like carving knives.
Daughters carry old fathers,
Pedalling away into the mirage of home.
Sore limbs, parched lips
Parts of expendable bodies.
Rotting in the April heat.
An invisible virus, death a whisper away,
Locked doors and closed shops
Protecting men and women of significance.
Slaving away in brick-kilns
Cleaning tables in cheap hotels
Building houses which would lock their doors.
The son asks his mother,
As they lie by the roadside,
“Where do migrant workers go after they die?”
“Heaven is an unreachable home.”
The summer rains drench the gray roads
They paddle in pools
And wade through clogged drains
Labouring unto death.
Labouring into death.
The world has come to a standstill
But they walk on.
Ananya Ray is a student of English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. She is a published poet and spoken word performer. An avid reader, she is also interested in academic writing and quizzing.