Muti

by Pam Newham

He’s on his haunches at the ocean’s edge.
In front of him two flat square bottles
lie on the pallid sand.
Dreadlocks hang heavy on his red shirt.
The waves drench his rolled-up trousers.
Slowly, he circles his hands over the bottles
and when they are filled he begins to chant,
raising his voice above the loudness of the surf.

Later, when I ask the grey-haired pharmacist
in her crisp white coat
if an unpronounceable drug
has a generic,
I think of him.

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