The Beggar


The Beggar is God’s friend

And when the beggar knocks
Beware:
The one who scoffs
at those in great despair
Will find God’s wrath
Descend upon their path
Wreaking great havoc
Where they once lay
In sleep
As if
In Peace.

For Peace is love and harmony
Kindness and generosity
Not merely in the things we see
But in our hearts
Our minds and
Our humanity.

Can sleep bring Peace
When rights are wronged?
Can Peace be real
When vice is strong?
Can good men sleep
When harm is done –
By their own acts or
Inaction?

Not all beggars appear in rags
Not all are destitute, filling bags
Wives too can beg
For love that’s lost,

For some sign that

They’re not just ghosts
Of past selves
Sold to servitude
Or trapped in timeless platitudes.
They beg for love that they have spent
With passion and servility.
They beg for compassion and dignity
For reinstatement
Of their humanity.

How God must rage at
The audacity
Of men who sleep
Through their calamity.

And still…
Wives pray for God’s Mercy
To reign over their Family.

Revealing the Mask:
I wrote this poem a while ago after visiting the Saartjie Baartman Center for Abused Women in Cape Town, South Africa. I had taken my students on a visit there after discussions on Saartjie Baartman’s story. Aside from gaining an insight into how women in general (and African women in particular) have been viewed historically, they were also keen to get a sense of the havens available to women in abusive relationships today.

It was a somber and moving visit. I went away pondering what the social worker had shared: The women sheltered at the center often had no other options for safety. Despite some coming from comfortable middle class families, most of the women’s  relatives were often detached from the reality of the abuse they faced. Perhaps this is connected to the stigma and perceived humiliation that women fear exposing themselves to by sharing fully the extent of their abuse. Perhaps it is symptomatic of the desensitized society we live in. It was also tragic to note how great a percentage of women sought the sanctuary of the center secretly when their husbands had fallen asleep or gone off to work, how very few would press charges and how many would call those same husbands to fetch them and briskly take them home.

I realise that this behaviour is tied up in the complex psychology of abuse victims, but can’t help believing that despite their own miserable circumstance, women’s inherent protective instinct over those they love is unshakable. I returned home frustrated and saddened  not only by the unchanging history, but by the present reality for far too many women begging to be safe and loved, and the complacency of our society on the matter.

 

Written for prompts from Three Word Wednesday and We Write Poems

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9 Responses

  1. it is beautiful and filled with grace and goodness.I loved your poem.

  2. So often ‘human-made’ rules or interpretations of them dictate what is done rather than what the heart feels or sees is the truth.

    I am always amazed that when I visit other houses of worship that there is information for women – abuse is as you say not just for the beggar, the poorest among us. Abuse is at every level of society.

    Interesting note: most pencils do not have lead, but graphite to leave lasting impressions 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment. You’re quite right, sadly- like so many social ills, abuse is found in every level of society and within every religious and cultural group. About the pencil- I simply guessed at you punning at ‘to lead’ and ‘of lead’ which I thought was clever… Imagine being laden with lead and being led all one’s life;)

  3. Your poem touched my heart and so did the story you shared about its inspiration. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Beautifully written as always!

    And a solemn reminder of the untold suffering of so many women…

  5. Liked your poem and your notes. There is far too much denial surrounding this issue that has been a part of human history almost since its beginning. Thank you for speaking out,

    Elizabeth
    http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/

  6. Spoken truthfully and gracefully…this cowardly mask of abuse…great point given here.

  7. domestic abuse has supposedly been classified as a “real” crime, but it can’t be prosecuted if the woman doesn’t notify authorities. the psychology of the women involved is complex beyond my comprehension. i am heartbroken at all of the different kinds of abuse women and girls are subjected to all over the world. i thought by the twenty-first century, we’d be beyond that!

    a very moving poem! thank you for sharing!

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