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Song of Shattering

Jun 26, 2005

Women working in the blaze of midday. Splitting stones in their barefeet to build a road. Against the gray of the rock piles their saris cry out the vivid colors of suffering. Heads covered with checkered towels. No cheap gold glinting in their ears. No clinking glass bangles. Dark arms rise and fall in harsh rhythm. There is nothing easy about paving a road. The sun so starkly hot it hurts. Their bodies speak the taut language of poverty- that hungry grace. The swinging arc of the pickaxe shatters dull rock. I must be careful of my heart. That dull rock. Something in me wants to stop the car. To do what? A part of me wants to feel the weight of the axe, the fierce pang of participation. A part of me wants to play Santa-in-the-sun;buy a smiling round of tender coconuts, quench something as simple as thirst. A part of me wants only to know who they are- their names and the names of their children. The shape of their dreams. I don't stop the car. I am not the one driving. (how far and for long will I stretch that excuse?) I am thinking unaccountably of cocoons. The close embrace that serves the purpose of time-bound protection. A sacred space set aside for the growing of wings. Cramped comfort that must one day be abandoned. No one takes up permanent residence in a cocoon. Any butterfly will tell you that. You must let the beating of your wings and heart guide you- even if it means shattering something. Take up your own pickaxe...There is nothing easy about paving a road.

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