For the Dalit People of India
Ten years ago you gathered
inside a temple before a taller than
life-sized statue of an ancient prince
in the hope that you, whom we accused of
coming from a lineage dirtier than dust,
could now become free roamers of his
spirited kingdom where all are equal
and all are cherished.
You shaved your heads and wore
maroon robes and within hours as you
touched the brass prince’s feet for blessings,
three thousand of you cast aside
your putrid skins that we had vowed
to never touch.
Perhaps the touch of a metal statue
is more healing than our human touch,
which holds a resolve in its finger tips
to be as punishing as thorns.
We called you outcasts but we
forgave you as Dalit Buddhists; your low
caste was disgrace but conversion resilience
to blow away our hatred.
Ten years on, your lives cultivate
around the smoke of thick incense wood
as we have forgotten you and forgotten
to ask your names even once.