Twenty-one

It is finished now
as she steps down
from the jet
and her eyes go big
at so much glass,
clean glass,
and smart men in uniforms
who offer their hands to help
and smiles of strangers
passing helping offering
making this transition
the easiest it could be
whilst she gathers together
the shreds of dignity
she has shed.

Gathers them
up from the floor of the Gobi, the granite
life that punched her till she grew weak
and went without words
or wily whispers from four to
fourteen to twenty-one
till she stands at a podium
and denounces her oppressors
one power to another
on the world’s stage

and her courage conquers
and her tears triumph
and the red fades in the face of the starlight
that guides her through her night.