The call singsongs over the loudspeakers,
blanketing Old Delhi. We shuffle
towards it through the afternoon haze.
A weathered metal detector chimes
as we pass. No one seems to notice.
As we crest the red stone steps, they tell us,
"Only Muslims," and point to a sign in English
listing prayer times for the Jama Masjid.
We crowd into the shade with the women
and the unfaithful. The mosque grows quiet.
I take a seat and watch a man root around
inside another's ear with a metal instrument.
Down below, a handful of kids play
with an abused cricket bat and a hollow
plastic ball. The leader smacks one
over a tall fence and has to monkey-climb
the gate to fetch it while the rest look on.
A little girl, three or four, hair braided
into a short black tail, collects coins
in the hammock of her grimy white apron.
She sits alone on the top step under the sun.
No one approaches her. Her body has been
kept whole, perfect. She may grow up
to be beautiful. I take a snapshot
as she examines the c