Walk, Pray, Fear, Heal

I am walking to work,

electric orange trench

over muted grey shift dress

and sneaker clad feet.


This is my urban-American

professional woman

uniform over brown skin.


On the radio this morning:

“Police pursuing suspects

in Boston Marathon Bombing.”


I pray as I walk,

Cherry blossoms

hanging fattly

in the branches above,

“Let them not be Muslims.”


Passing by the crossing guard,

lime green raingear catches my eye,

and the sound of a woman’s voice

talking shrilly behind me

hooks my ear like a helpless fish.


“Chechnyan?  That’s Islamic right?

They are all the same people right?

And what are we going to do about it?”


Inside my body, my heart is yanked

from my chest, and beats wildly

flailing around, recognizing

that danger is near.


My mind races ahead.

“Is she alone? Am I safe?

Should I say something?

What should I say?

Would it help? ”


I imagine myself

turning to her and saying,

“You are making me afraid.”

I turn. She is on the phone.

We exchange glances. I turn back.

My sneakered feet quicken

to match my heart.


A Black woman in hijab

passes me in the other

direction, her children

close to her skirt.

They are beautiful.


An aging white couple

walking their two dogs

nods warmly at me.


A White newspaper man

hawking his wares

lifts peace into the sky

crying, “It’s a beautiful day

in Philadelphia.”


I try to take comfort

in these things.

These human beings

holding me in the light.


But the fish, once

released from the hook,

still bleeds in the water.


And the uniform

does not hide

the brown skin.


NaPoWriMo 2013:  Day 19



  1. Kash Srinivasan said,

    April 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    very powerful statement


  2. Barby Kahl said,

    April 20, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Aarati, that is so beautiful; strong and vulnerable at the same time. Thank you for sharing it with us. Hold onto the light. Love you!

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