Woman in a Hijab


The young woman in the house opposite me
has changed her appearance, radically.
She formerly wore jeans, normal attire;
coloured her hair, regularly.
She now conceals her body and head
In anonymous robes; the once-bright
hair now covered by a hijab.

I watch her, this morning, in bright sunlight.
I watch, as she spends an hour or so
pushing her little girl, on a bike, to and fro;
carefully watching her child’s transition
from three wheels to two. Almost as vital,
this transition, as the one from crawling
to first, unsteady steps. Those miraculous
first steps, that no robot can replicate.
For each time a foot is thrown forward
into mid-air, it is supported, enveloped
on its way there. Unconscious expression
of self-belief, on which we depend,
providing relief. A silent, invisible,
benevolent breath, sustaining us all,
from birth to death. I watch the young
woman gazing down at her child,
encouraging her bravery; giving her
the necessary invisible breath
of support, enabling the miracle
of walking, of unsupported cycling.

The same benevolent emanation of love
she believes she receives from her deity above.
On-going now; continuing after she’s dead,
beaming down on her radiant, covered head.
She pictures herself receiving a nod
of affirmation, from her new-found God.

I’ve been enjoying watching the Channel 4 TV series “Humans”, which ended last week, apparently having become one of the channel’s most popular-ever series.  For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it was a science-fiction/fantasy tale involving android robo-servants called “synths”, and the characterisation and acting was so well-observed that you really believed these androids had human consciousness.  Despite the appealing nature of the story, however, I remember reading recently that no robot has been invented so far that can replicate the way we humans walk.  Apparently, the simple act of walking is a kind of miraculous event, defying all probability.  I was thinking of this a few days ago, while I was watching a neighbour pushing her young child on a bicycle.  It was this, combined with the fact that the neighbour is a young woman who seems to have undergone a recent religious conversion, that led to the above poem.


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