Opium in a baggy at the tea stahl [poem]

Black tar, she enjoyed this kind
in high school, rolled small balls
smoked in a marijuana joint
sometimes fired on its own

where in the world did
midwestern teenagers get this
poppy product adored by the Rajasthani man
tar-stained teeth, no shame

offers it to the American
mother in a navy a-line skirt sitting beside
chubby toddler in his tan and black fedora

it was always her favorite drug
pretending not to love it
she remembered the high well
smooth, relaxed, easy

for 16 years whenever asked
which she preferred best
opium
last time she tried it, was a child

two men sat on a bench, cornered
across, in the cement block tea stahl near the fort first gate
pale blue button downs neatly pressed
brown skin, just a few shades darker than
their milky tea in slender glasses

government workers, kind dumb simple eyes
on the plastic baggy of opium held open to
the mother, eyes wide yet smaller than her own

she watched them watch her
the son, the baggy, chocolate inside
the mother clenches her jaw, purses her lips
hostage status in the exchange

Take opium? He asked, smirk and gentle smile
slides the black tar
his finger and the dime-sized dollop
oozing, My life is clean now
I heard her say, did you hear

he pressed resin on a pink tongue
skin scraped against sharp teeth below.
winding the baggy round itself, returned to a pocket
reached for water before the son, half liter
down his throat, just like that
he crossed his legs above the knee

now, a swallow of chai
held the glass with charisma, confidence
strange sexiness in the dark, this man

son banged a red litchi juice carton on the table
demanding attention from the audience, watching

name is Garfur, he told her, relative of
the politician who owns her hotel
last name Khan of the muslim warrior clan, three
daughters, one son, worked in camels before now
tuk tuk driver

life is good
opium cigarettes marijuana chai
easy life

who knows what my future brings
I heard her say, did you hear

now, this isn’t for me

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India // spring 2019
edited for form November 2020

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