Little girls

Sad eyes upon a face,
Cragged by the injustices of years.
Lank hair, corpse like lines the cheek,
Now sunken through the loss of teeth.
She came into my world again today,
Never asking, always pleading.
Hope of relief oozing from every pore,
As hand outstretched she shuffles by.
This daughter of some unknown man,
Reduced to silent, quiet prayer.
Prayer for some food or copper coin,
Prayer for an end to her dispair.
She held my eye today, that crone,
And from that ancient face shone out,
The sparkling eye of little girls,
Still wondering at the world.
I broke, broke, shattered, broke,
Because of her, this child so old.
Plunging my hand into my pocket,
I had no coins to give to her,
And so she shuffled on and I,
Looked at her retreating form,
Broken myself by childhood’s end,
And little girls made crones by men.

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