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Bed-Tea in New Delhi
by Dawn McDuffie

And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits,
according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. Revelation, 21, 17.

Before I get out of bed, a little girl
presents a tray with a quilted cover
to keep the tea hot, and a plate of wafers
so I don't get hungry before breakfast.
This morning I taste cardamom
and honey in the scalded milk.
I'd love to think it's Karma that allows
me to snuggle warm in wadded silk
while the poor wear rubber flip flops.
The servant, only eight years old,
settles a golden plate of dates and raisins
next to the tea pot. She believes the rich
have earned the right to sleep late,
the right to never feel hungry,
or so I've been told. Scriptures
always tell the servants to be grateful
and encourage the rich to expect
sweets made of nougat and pistachios‐
symbols of generosity. My hand
reaches out for one more cookie,
and I think of the dress I will buy‐
leaf green silk with gold embroidery,
or the rug I want, woven from misery.
My small coin of guilt is not heavy enough
to lift the weight of one sugar cube
from the hands of the child
who smiles and removes the tray.

The MacGuffin  

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