Upon Seeing the Crawling Girl with Polio

(Kolkata, India - 2013)

by Carol Lewis


My smog-scarred eyes 

witness raw, be-sandaled palms 

crawl, while crooked and callused 

knees crack on broken bits of brick.

The dry road dust settles in; 

your grave, seared eyes, 

like coal before it’s mined,

bear a secret for me to cradle, a wish  

within my power to unearth, with which to gift 

you like a diamond, 

before my humbled feet bear your darkness

away with me, and I pen it 

in the polio-free country

where I belong.

My heart is scarred

as my ear leans closer, 

feels you shiver, shiver…I

hear what’s been burrowed just

above your hollow belly 

- your hope, swelling – 

not for bread nor beauty but 

for the right stolen by preventable malady; 

the right to rise, independent

from the tainted dust, to balance, 

to stand tall

and see on your precious feet

your hand-shoes

where they belong.