With No Immediate Cause

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten

every five minutes a woman is raped/ every ten minutes a lil girl is molested

yet I rode the subway today

I sat next to an old man who may have beaten his old wife 3 minutes ago or 3 days

30 years ago he might have sodomized his daughter but I sat there

cuz the young men on the train might beat some young women later in the day or tomorrow

I might not shut my door fast enuf/ push hard enuf

every 3 minutes it happens

some woman’s innocence rushes to her cheeks/ pours from her mouth

like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn apart/ their mouths menses red & slip

every 3 minutes a shoulder is jammed through plaster and the oven door/ chairs push thru the rib cage/ hot water or boiling sperm decorate her body

I rode the subway today & bought a paper from a man who might have held his old lady onto a hot pressing iron/ I don’t know maybe he catches lil girls in the park & rips open their behinds with steel rods

I can’t decide what he might have done I only know every 3 minutes every 5 minutes and every 10 minutes

so I bought the paper looking for the announcement, the discovery of the dismembered woman’s body/ the victims have not all been identified/ today they are naked and dead/ refuse to testify

One girl out of 10’s not coherent/ I took the coffee & spit it up/ I found an announcement/ not the woman’s bloated body in the river floating/ not the child bleeding in the 59th street corridor/ not the baby broken on the floor/

” There is some concern that alleged battered women might start to murder their husbands & lovers with no immediate cause

I spit up and vomit I am screaming we all have immediate cause

every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes

every 10 minutes

every day

women’s bodies are found in alleys & bedrooms/ at the top of the stairs before I ride the subway/ buy a paper/ drink coffee/ I must know/

Have you hurt a woman today

Did you beat a woman today

Throw a child across a room

Are little girl’s panties in your pocket

Did you hurt a woman today

I have to ask these obscene questions the authorities require me to establish immediate cause.

By Ntozake Shange


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