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Tuesday, January 10, 2012


by Kim Baker           

Naama Margolese is a pony-tailed, bespectacled second grader who is afraid of walking to her religious Jewish girls’ school for fear of ultra-Orthodox extremists who have spat on her and called her a whore for dressing “immodestly.”  Associated Press, Beit Shemesh, Israel, December 28, 2011

Harassed, spat on
by black-hatted men,
she’s eight, late
for school but tears
do not defuse her terror
nor turn her long
sleeved shirts and skirt
into orthodox tradition.
Hatred masquerades
as religion and misogyny
masquerades as God.
Coexistence requires more
than couture submission.
It insists on wearing
the hair shirt of respect
despite vice grips of dissent.

When she isn’t teaching the abundant virtues of the comma at Roger Williams University School of Law, writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, and doing the Cha Cha, Kim Baker works to end violence against women.  Her poems have been published online and in print; her essays broadcast on NPR.  Kim is currently working on a book of ekphrasis poems.