Dead Women Count
She counts murdered women. Not women
wiped out in warzones by bullets and bombs,
nor the 63 million missing in India – Rita Banerji
keeps count of them. Nor is she counting
the Korean Comfort Women, piecing
together what’s left of their bones
from the fire pits where they perished. Though
that too needs done. No, she is counting close
to home. But not the victims of wild-eyed strangers
they drilled us to evade: stay with your pals when you
leave the pub, don’t walk down darkened lanes, don’t
take shortcuts through woods alone, don’t get into vans,
don’t wear too short skirts, too high heels,
low-cut tops, don’t end up a headline,
a corpse a break-a-mother’s-heart statistic
in a ditch. Though we miss them too. Every one.
She counts women, girlfriends, wives, killed with
shotguns, ropes, with septic tanks and fists, with poison,
acid, cricket bats and knives, each murdered by a man
who said he loved her once; a boyfriend, husband,
partner, ex; a man she’d trusted in her heart, her home.
A man who thought her life no longer counts. But she
is counting, every week, every one.
And we are counting with her.