Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Mary Sue Barnett ARCWP Poem in honor Jyoti Singh: Birthright of a Butterfly

Mary Sue Barnett ARCWP


Jyoti Singh was a 23 year old college student who was gang raped and severely injured on a bus in Delhi, India in December 2012. The barbaric attack gave rise to mass protests across the country. Jyoti was able to give details of the attack to her parents and to the police while in the hospital. She died of her injuries thirteen days later. She has been referred to as “India’s Daughter,” which also is the title of a BBC Documentary about her life and the misogynistic violence that took her life. 


This feminist, mystical poem arises from a deep, redemptive impulse, from the grace of inter being, to offer a breath of healing and solidarity. A close friend inspired these words. 


Jyoti Singh: Birthright of a Butterfly 

Universal Declaration 
of Human Rights 
is 
your 
Birthright,
Jyoti 

yet 
you 
lay
battered 
by men

even 
a butterfly has 
tall grass
for shelter. 

CEDAW is 
your 
Safety,
Jyoti

yet 
you 
endure
unspeakable attacks



even 
a butterfly has 
a leaf
for rest. 

Beijing Platform 
for Action
is 
your 
Sisterhood,
Jyoti

yet 
your 
pain
is too much
for one bite 
of food 

even 
a butterfly is
free 
to enjoy
the nectar. 


Mother Earth 
is 
your 
Soil
for living,
Jyoti 


yet 
you 
tell 
your 
story
from 
your
deathbed 

even 
some butterflies 
hibernate 
in trees
for a winter. 

Sister Moon
and Brother Sun
are 
your
Horizon,
Jyoti,

yet
your 
female body
is desecrated 

even 
a butterfly’s wings
provide camouflage. 



Enormous is 
your 
courage

to survive
to speak 
the truths

in 
your 
dying 

so others
could care. 

Like Indian
Swallowtails
flying high

in alpine meadows 
and forest canopy

but soon
oh too soon





you 
are lifted
above

your 
sisters in 
the streets. 

Your 
unbearable trust 
releases 

you
in one 
last breath

to be heard
to heal
to be free. 

Filled with 
uncertainty 
is a butterfly’s 
first flight

a universal 
breeze carries 
you




to be
present 
in one
eternal moment

with Love
Who created 
you 

waiting with 
nectar for 
your 
being,
Jyoti. 

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