Her Scream Is Not Enough

This morning, with tea,
I chewed on five poems,
a young girl, a poet, a person,
shrill, screaming for her share of the peak,
is feminism still a word or did someone gender-neutralize it
for she is waving her sexuality in the scarred face of misogyny,
a scarf, a scrap of whole wheat dissent against fattened bigotry,
she will not be beaten, be raped, be used,
her breasts will not be shaped into iron bars to hold her captive,
she will knot her faith, if she pleases, as a sarong around her waist,
her silence will not be tied as prayers to the limbs of old trees,
to trade a daughter for a blessed son;

I come from a past that bore, that wept, that silently moved ahead
on paths the hems of sarees had never touched before,
I cannot write her poems,
for I found my own place in the quiet
as if tiptoeing through a darkened theatre,
through whispers, through collision, through unspoken rage,
by the time I sat with the popcorn on my knee, a macho hero
had already beaten up a dozen villains single handed,
but this battle needs more than one saviour,
it needs the visceral voice of unbridled passion,
it needs pens that will redraw front lines into curves with busts and hips;

It needs feet,
feet in red stilettos, feet wizened from paddy fields, feet calloused
from having walked too far, too long, feet refusing to stop at boundaries,
feet that part seas, feet that pave their own roads,
I cannot write these poems but I have feet,
feet that made it to the front of a line or two, feet that followed feet,
feet that tapped out their own soundless songs,
I don’t know if feminism is still a complete word in a broken world
and I know I cannot write her loud poems,
but I have feet that want to walk, to run, to dance on level ground,
and even I know, a woman, a poet, a person,
that wanting is not enough,
even her words, sharp, bold, piercing the veil,
are not enough.