she walks alone

barefoot in the paddies of rice

breaking her back for some precious grains

she walks alone

in jo’burg town with a black eye

smacked around by him the previous painful night

she walks alone

in the streets of neon hazed manila

along the pristine hedges of rotten London

on the crowded pavements of lonesome New Delhi

across the rolling plains of the vast bounteous pampas

over the winding back-ways of the sloping and grimy favelas

on the glittering pavements of rich and sweetly-scented Jeddah

through the blindingly false boulevards of that sad Los Angeles town

she walks alone

bearing the burden of mother and daughter

of cook and sweeper and wife and mistress and punching-bag

she walks alone

through your streets and mine

standing up as she is beaten more down

loving a little as the bruises on her face turn purple

feeding the little ones with morsels of hastily cooked beans

she walks alone

in factories and in mills and in buses

in schools and in brothels and in place in-between

she walks alone

staying alive on the alms of the rich

violated by those who from the pulpit preach

she walks alone

my sister and yours

my mother and yours too

my lover and your beloved as well

she walks alone

caged by society in its invisible prison

a slave of norms and culture and religion and caste

she walks alone

but she is the conscience of me and you

screaming at us silently in hunger and despair

she walks alone

and though fearful of you men she may seem

be warned that she may not forever be this alone

for she too dreams and thinks and believes

for she too needs and wants and loves and weeps

in the silent night of complacency while impotent mankind sleeps

and she too will rise and in rising slay

the beasts that in your callous hearts prowl and lay

and she too will demand her rightful place

for every mother and sister and lover and daughter has a real face