When she goes to the well, behind their hands
the women nudge and murmur and exclaim;
her head bends lower as her waist expands;
she hurts with innocence; she hates their blame.
They note her husband, where he stares and stands;
they watch; they wait to see his anger flame.
She feels his pain closing like metal bands
around her own hurt, and she feels his shame.
She watches him; his eyes catch hers, his gaze
intent, examining her watching soul;
he crosses the hard earth towards his wife:
the women sigh – anticipate the blaze –
and see his hands reach slowly to console,
enfolding grudgingly the newer life.