5 AM
Ahmedabad Airport

Toilet cleaner

Hands a small, white flannel
To a woman

With two small boys
In socks and shoes

A woman
Who’s wearing
Than she makes in a year

Amala wonders how
One so meticulous
In dress
Washes her hands
Of good manners
So casually


In her sterile airport uniform
Through the plate glass expanse
At the big birds
On the tarmac

Amala peeks at the big birds
Preparing to migrate
To climes
She’s never heard of
In the other universe

Amala hums a film song
Peeks at the non-regulation colours
On her toenails
Beneath her sterile airline uniform

With no customer to hand
Takes a small
White flannel

Wipes the taps

With a silent smile
With a silent prayer

Wipes the taps
Kisses the flannel

Then wipes again

For the extra shine

That just might
Convince God

To laugh
At His own reflection

To smile
At her shoeless fledglings

To smile

And grant them flight

Andy Conner is a Birmingham, UK-based poet and educator, with a long track record of performing his work nationally and internationally. His credits include BBC Radio 4, Jaipur Literature Festival and India International Centre. His work ranges from the humorous to the very dark. Some of Andy’s poems have been written to help children of all ages deal with issues such as bullying and domestic violence. Recently, he has also worked in British schools, conducting workshops for National Refugee Week. He can be reached at Read other articles by Andy, or visit Andy's website.