The Price

We have
the disease we picked up in the jungle,
which we contracted knowingly,
while shots were fired over the dirt ridge —
men felled like low-grade timber.
We contracted it there, together,
in windowless rooms,
and in bare feet on the buffalo runs to the stream,
where we squatted with the kids with leather hides;
and already your eyes were sinking into shallows,
mine too, but slowly still;
and for all of the bald-headed women in saris
with bottles of quinine water,
you had the smile I thought
you mustered only for me,
but you were dearer than I could have imagined
when I could afford to be selfish with you.

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