No shadow is remembered nor an echo recalled of the impassioned campaign the women waged, (year upon year, under purple, white and golden banners) that they be seen and heard and counted: enjoy enfranchisement alongside men. Ideals propelled them: their voice would jettison poverty, inferiority, powerlessness, within the home and in other spheres for white and black, for wife and spinster.
Marching, publishing, explaining with practiced elocution, they stood in cold and rain, they endured the glass and rocks hurled at their heads, they suffered far too many days of unlawful confinement and vicious jailers’ blows struck in a rage fueled by lack of comprehension. They yearned for sunlight or the feel of a fresh breeze and writhed with pain and disgust as food forced through their nostrils mixed with their own vomit. They suffered the mantras of their detractors: “You are not fit to think or speak your mind. You are like an errant child, you who were born for these things alone: to breed and to obey.”
The goal achieved. The tale forgotten. The marching women’s words erased from our collective memory.
A treasured text from ancient times, feared, revered, misunderstood. Talking heads on the flickering screen lob phrases: “jihad,” “Quar’an,” “religious imperialism.”
On the city street, a young, raven beauty darts before the dark to don again the hijab she secreted, its heft, its gloom not matched to her spirit. She spies her brother in his western dress, and is immobilized; thought quelled; breath quashed. She ceases to apprehend what is before her. Her heart plummtes below ground. The young man’s eyes lock hers, then look away, black and beautiful as her own, burning coldly inside her brain. The thin young body breathes again, short, fractured, gasping breaths. The silken hair yields to the cloth as she withdraws into the shadows of the football field now falling into night.
Silken hair spills from the cloth when her body is found days later stabbed twenty-three times. A father claims it is his right, his duty, to uphold the honor so demeaned by his daughter’s defiance.
After-dinner theater for a highly select group. The stage: institutional greens, glass and steel. The script so secret, any miscue, all is chaos and the public show is cancelled.
Out of view, the family arrives, still mourning. They know not what they seek precisely, each or all: vengeance, retribution, finality. Can rage, now after fifteen years, still feed the just and eternal flames of sorrow that scorched the hearts and faces, the eyes that now look on, somewhere, behind the stage, in a quiet room apart. Do those dolorous eyes surveill the set, after all, or do they see again, her face, her wave, her disappearing image on that last June night of her so cruelly truncated life.
Photographs pose a hardened man, reporters tell a tale of unrepentant evil. He seized a life at random,he dispatched it for no reason. His state pronounces a right to life, a right to kill. They have sent him to the place to die. But his body is recalcitrant and taunts their secret script. The actors scramble in disarray. The curtain falls. Did the man writhe in pain, call out and convulse ?
Reviews are omnipresent: a macabre performance.
Crimson stream on pearly ground glistens in the cold below the January stars. Air escapes hissing from the embers still smoldering in the fire pit but the frigid form remains still. The pistol reflects the light of the blue and white police cars where the woman sobs under blankets.
Inside the stately home, the grey haired detective sits on the leather chair and smells the lemon oil that recently kissed the antique cherry desk.His deep sigh echos on the empty shelves, the papers, arranged in martial rows and columns, announce the imminent seizure of the home by the bankers.
White candles in the night illuminate uncomprehending faces, stricken with loss and fear and rage.
Colored plastic body bags obscure the faces of the students slain on that Freedom’s Friday. And so the fabrications begin, the quest to be included in the sorrow, or, surpassing that, to become the tragedy itself. A ripple, soon to reach crescendo in a worldwide wave.
So many reach in fatigue, in desperation, with minds too full, too severely throbbing to comprehend that no single answer will ever serve to the simple question: Why.
Communicators tangle threads. “Another mass school shooting ” Six young students slain, three slashed and stabbed. Horrible. Intimate. Full of hate. And personal. Three students gunned down in moments. Two, pre-meditated killed in a hunt for female flesh. One random shot. All young lives extinguished as the young man preened in his sleek black car through the California college beach town with far too many guns, more ammunition, hoarded, like a nation’ treasure.One suicide. A bullet to the head.
The chain of blame: a bullied child was he. A bullied child in wonderland, in wealth and privilege, ancient parkland, grandmother’s tales. His anguished parents questing until the moments he lay dying, speeding through the night to rescue others, to interrupt his action.
A lonely man living in the modern electronic world riddled with thoughts of hatred. Young women slaughtered in the morning of joyous lives, blameless, strong, empowered. Their memory untarnished by his disordered mind. To honor them we must not seize their tragic story. Nor fail to hear his loathing for the Asian, or see the slashing death he wrought on Asian men with whom he shared nothing more than perhaps a skin tone.
Their lives deserve full honor, not least to be remembered.
In light of day, by clear starlight, the tide returns in peace. Each will reach to touch a heart. Many times, we will succeed.