I passed your tiny stall a while ago,
And saw you there, the trodden and the icon,
The wretched and the darkest queen of light,
So fierce and timid we must always be
Shielded from your alien intensity.
I did not dare approach you at the first;
Chador aflame, and you as still as marble,
As silent as an executioner.
I rushed to hide from your unyielding gaze,
Only to return to face myself in you.
I feel you probing me in curious alarm,
But cannot see past your disguise.
Are you a painted mannequin,
Alluring symbol, someone’s prize?
Do I remind you of someone
You’ve never seen but still despise?
Am I opaque to you as you
To me, obscured behind a veil of fear and lies?
I pose before you easy in my stance,
Pretending innocence and understanding.
But I can only see with foreign eyes:
A captive in a cell like a cocoon;
A prison you were made to weave yourself,
No bigger than the air around your skin,
With windows narrower than waves of light
To keep your virtue safe inside an endless night.
I cannot feel the smallest part of you,
Ten thousand miles away in all directions;
Yet how absurdly I pretend to know
Your anguish and the road to your salvation.
Can I ever see you as you see yourself?