You told me of her
and of the policeman trying to make her wear jeans
in your city
in public, on the road
and of your tears then.
It wet my eyelashes too, later –
much after I listened to
you recounting the tale
and I was left wondering
after that second bout of tears that were mine –
much after, thinking:
Why did I weep?
Was I weeping with you for her and others like her
or weeping for you, for being so sensitive
or angry at myself for being too soft-hearted
or at the hard heartedness implicit in all, our human helplessness?
When I stopped, I felt empty
except for my still slightly tear-drenched eyelashes
that too would dry soon
leaving no trace of this humane, empathetic, meaningless sorrow
that brought about no change in the reality
of such grim situations;
and since I could not let it happen that there occurs no change
I wrote this poem
in the hope that someone will read it
and take care of those like her,
some new Mother Theresa will arise
and thus also wipe away tears from the eyes of those who are like you
in this cruel world
where everything is mixed up
where the heights of happiness and the depths of grief are found
dwelling side by side, on the same street, in the same hour, in each other’s inseparable arms without choosing it
world without end
Will it be, must it be, so always?
and am I not still only one step closer, to
doing what really must be done
and hence still too far away?
That was why I wept
and why I write this
But no poem can ever absolve me of
such blood guiltiness
Only action can
which I do not yet have courage for on a wider front
being too wrapped up in the struggle to love just a few
How to make the few into many I do not as yet know.