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a woman ablaze

~for the rape victim of Unnao

She walked a kilometer
burning alive,
somehow lucid
through the pain,
a voice in the flame
just begging
to be heard.

And even now,
forty hours gone,
the limits
to the cruelty of men
prove themselves
a dream of light
lost inside
this event horizon.

Somehow, her cries
still carry
like echoes traced in smoke,
her hands curled
into hot irons branding
the flesh of her rapists,
damning scars,
damning injustice.

Out on bail,
they beat her,
stabbed her,
poured gasoline
and lit her clothes,
but no man ever knows
that every woman
is a phoenix
that rose
from the ashes
of her suffering.

So, India, are you listening
now? And men,
will you ever learn,
that these fires you set
to silence the conscience
of your crimes,
are merely catalysts
priming the world
to burn.