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Saturday, March 09, 2013


by Rasma Haidri

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the International Women of Courage awards ceremony at the State Department March 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. In celebration of the 102nd International Women’s Day, the State Department honored nine women from around the world with the International Women of Courage Award, including the 23-year-old Indian woman known only as “Nirbhaya,” who died from injuries she received after being gang raped by six men last December in Delhi.

India is a woman
with bangles of gold, yellow silk
draped over a bronze arm
fingers elegant and long
at the end of a hand
lying in the dust, chopped
so the bangles fell off, one by one
like bloodstained fetters.

India is a woman
with slender long limbs
sheathed in folds of softest cotton
that lift and stretch and bend
as she steps into a rickshaw
where two men already seated
smile and wag their heads
and make room for her
between them.

India is a woman
partitioned by a retreating army
into East and West, Us and Them
split along the red rape line
where her blood, like a river,
would have carried sons into the world
and daughters.

India is a woman
who trusts the strength of men
put in position to protect her
but again and again she is flung
like pieces of meat between them
her golden brown body devoured, ripped
by their white gnashing teeth, smiling
like jackals.

Rasma Haidri is an American poet of South Asian descent living on the arctic seacoast of Norway. Besides previous publication in New Verse News, her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Canada and India.