One voice in the wind

I am tired of writing the same words,

feeling the same pain,

stifling the same tears,

hands raised to my face,

in a gesture of despair,

again and again.

Who am I?

What does my sorrow matter?

Not a jot in the sands of time,

the starred and clouded sky,

in your fossilised hearts.

But grains of sand make mountains,

the sky our rocking cradle,

and your hearts will shatter

beneath the great hammer of history,

if enough stars and grains of sand

join to form the hands

to wield it,

and one day,

they will.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

62 thoughts on “One voice in the wind”

    1. Thank you, Emily. World events are just so depressing, it’s hard to understand why there are not more protests, revolutions, ousting of governments and demands for justice. We accept too much and we’re killing ourselves and the future.

      1. You’re right; even if we are only “grains of sand”, if there are enough of us, we can actually change things! It’s funny because I just wrote a poem about people complaining too much, although I was thinking of more small-scale things than the issues that actually need changing!

      2. We’re all good at complaining about the little things. Maybe because the big things frighten us so much. I like to hope that enough people will wake up to make a difference.

    1. I hope you’re right, Kat. I saw some of the figures for the turn out yesterday, and maybe I’m being naive but I had expected far more than that. I read 800,000 in Washington for a country of 325 million. I know that there were marches all over the country, but there were 3.7 million marchers in Paris alone after the Charlie Hebdo bombing for a total population of 65 million. I know the French do love a good protest movement, but still.

      1. It’s sad. There are people I work with who forbade their teens from participation in this event, as well as the school walk out, fearing they would be easy targets for drive-by shooters. Did I also mention these people voted for Trump? That too. I live in redneck gun country. A place where confederate flags fly everywhere. I moved here to be closer to my grandchildren. They are now collateral damage from my relationship with my grown children two of four who have disowned me LAT (life after trump) for being angry about what is happening in the country. I am only allowed access to 2 of my 7 grandchildren, who I fear are being indoctrinated by their religiously righteous parents. This has all hit very close to home for me.

      2. Oh Jesus! What a mess! You live in a seriously fucked up country. Not that there aren’t lots of those but they tend to be in former colonial black holes that have been left to cope with despots for too long. You live in the land of the free!
        That is the ultimate irony that parents would stop their children protesting against gun violence because they might get shot at.
        I can see why you and religion don’t see eye to eye and I admire you for (I was going to say sticking to your guns—forget) standing up for what you believe in.

      3. Writing saves me every day Jane. I know I can be a tad snarky. It’s the healthiest way I know to release the sadness. Religion and I parted ways a long time ago. I don’t consider it to be a great loss. I have seen less and less good coming from religion over the years. Frankly, I’m not interested in a god that condones hate, bullying, judgment and condones the lawlessness of our vile leaders. 😕

      4. Writing is what keeps me from real deep sadness. I won’t say depression because I don’t want to go there. When I left home to go to university I just stopped going to Mass. The further I move from that point of cutting loose, the harder it is to understand how anyone can believe in any of it. Not because of the magical element, I could go for that, like Narnia, but simply because the intolerant, divisive, superior, hate-filled values they spew are not mine.

      5. It shows that even in the rich western democracies most of the population are too concerned with living rather than protesting. In the third world they have no choice but to struggle to survive. Even those who protest have to go back to a day to day existence and battle for a bigger slice of the corporate cake.

      6. I think there’s also an element of tradition too. The US doesn’t have a tradition of revolution. It’s a very conservative society, deferential to the established order. You can see from the ugly remarks made by adults to the young protesters that they have no respect for them. In Europe we are much more prepared to question the status quo and listen to what young people have to say. In some countries protesting is to endanger your life—they still do it. Nothing to lose, maybe.

  1. This is exquisite. On a personal level i think we turn the other cheek far more than when I was a shaveling. Greenham common motorway objections and a protest or strike almost every week.

    1. It’s like that here. The French love a good protest with millions in the streets. In the US they had the anti Vietnam War protests, peace movements civil rights movements, but nothing seems to mobilise the crowds now, not even when tots are murdered. Don’t understand it.

      1. Try telling that to the people who want cheap smartphones, cheap beef five times a week, holidays at the other side of the globe, bananas and pineapples etc etc. I think the time as come to stop asking and to start telling the farmers how to behave, and revaluing the cheap stuff we take for granted.

  2. Sorry, shot it off at speed through the ether, unfinished, my moan unheard. Dont get me wrong I am not a radical but suffragettes died for the right to be heard for all to have a say. We seem to know more than ever before but have less ‘Balls’ than back when. We see, we dislike but we do not act. Maybe we are as humans just … lazy and wait for others to shout! NO FRACKING, Do not bomb!, you cannot come on to our soil and bring nerve agents full stop! The earth is tired of the taking as humans tire of trying. 😯😢😕

    1. Oh, I agree. Some will mobilise for the big issues, but generally speaking there’s this idea that you wan buy your way out of problems, like a house in a nicer neighbourhood, close the door and forget that the rest of the world exists. The big issues just don’t concern most people. I don’t know that it’s laziness unless you can be morally lazy. We let ourselves be dictated to by the big corporations, and I include the farming lobby in there. Everything is reduced to how many jobs will it bring, and the cost is never mentioned. If you oppose a new, useless airport you’re opposing jobs for the unemployed. If you oppose the use of glyphosates you want the death of small farmers. If you oppose factory produced meat, you’re in favour of stopping the poor buying cheap meat. They do what they like and the people who have the guts to stand up to them fall foul of both sides, left and right, of the establishment.

      1. I think as most things do it will come full circle. The film suffragette recently has made some think or at least I have heard groups of women really debating what the seen on the screen.

      2. Yes, that is a betrayal of the women who fought for the vote. But there are plenty of men who don’t vote either and nobody is suggesting they give up their dominant position.

      3. I don’t think women will either, neither do I expect anyone to ask us to. If anything I believe sixteen yearolds should be included as they are allowed to have sex and marry, survive sometimes without guidance but the do not vote.

      4. Yes, we seem to have a variable idea of when adulthood starts. If you’re responsible enough to marry and have kids, to join the army, leave school, get a job etc etc it doesn’t seem logical that you’re not considered responsible enough to vote.

  3. Beautiful! I especially love this section,

    But grains of sand make mountains,

    the sky our rocking cradle,

    and your hearts will shatter

    beneath the great hammer of history,

    if enough stars and grains of sand

    join to form the hands

    to wield it,

    and one day,

    they will.

    You are a master of putting immense impact into the hands of simplicity. Not an easy thing to do.

    1. Thank you for endorsing the message. I spend far too much time imagining what I would say if ever I met X or what arguments I would use to convince Y. Many issues seem crystal clear to me, but that probably just means I am incredibly opinionated 🙂

      1. And yet…and yet, I had the same argument with my second daughter that we often seem to have over the rights and obligations of immigrant communities. She has the opinion of a lot of young people who pride themselves on being open, tolerant and inclusive. That means tolerating the cultural (essentially religious) differences that set very strict gender roles, segregate girls and boys, and create a society within a society, obeying its own rules and not participating in the greater society because it ‘disapproves’. Her attitude is that people should be allowed to do what they like, we should respect their differences and if a girl wants to cover herself in a shroud and later cover her daughters in shrouds, she should be allowed to ‘without let or hindrance’. She calls me intolerant, I say that she tolerates intolerance and segregation. Stalemate. It maybe comes from growing up an immigrant and having to blend in with the surroundings or meet violence and abuse that makes me annoyed when others are allowed to opt out in the name of tolerance.

      2. mmm I’m not sure you are intolerant. I think you are just talking about a very divisive subject. I read this Egyptian writer many years ago on circumsision and afterward really believed that it was not right for any young girl to ever have that done to her. Yet many would accuse me of being culturally insensitive, of trying to get other cultures to bend to our notions of what is ‘right’ and denying their histories and ways. I suppose to some extent it’s true. I do think a culture that doesn’t mutilate their children is more on track than one who does, just as I think any culture that has such prohibitive gender roles as to cause greater inequality that already exists is not as progressive. But ironically those view-points are considered draconian rather than progressive. Not quite sure how that happened, other than what you say, the progressive youth believe in letting sleeping dogs lie and being culturally sensitive more than railing against something that seems defunct, damaging or dangerous. It is a generational thing. It’s also why feminism is virtually dead on the vine, because it’s either considered synonymous with lesbianism which is ludicrous, or it’s misinterpreted as being man-hating and reactionary, rather than just a desire to have equality. For me, equality means affording all with the same basic level of respect and treatment. It is impossible to say what a young muslim girl would truly think if she had not been indoctrinated too early to ever not be biased. I’m not damming the faith so much as some practices and that goes for Judaism and many others where extremism leads to absurdities. So in taht sense I may join your stalemate on your side of the bridge – not sure how we will come together on this subject as a world. Maybe it’s impossible. Maybe we find comfort in segregation? I definitely think you have a unique perspective because of your own experiences that is both valid and underappreciated en mass

      3. All of these barbaric practices, the inequalities and restrictions are all imposed on women. I don’t know of any religion/culture that insists on boys having their testicles cut off or that they wear garments that restrict their freedom of movement and vision, or that keeps them out of the public eye and job markets. It’s hardly a varied, mixed bag. Always the same who end up with the fluffy end of the lollipop. If all culture were different, there might be a reason for saying yes, keep them all, but they’re not, they’re all the same and it’s always the girls who are the losers.

      4. That’s the thing. I have heard that it’s considered the same for boys as for girls but come on, I mean the tiniest piece of flesh on a boy versus the entire sexual organs of a girl? NOT the same. I think if more knew the reasons why (to prevent girls from cheating or having sexual pleasure outside of marriage or in) they wouldn’t be so au fait about it but who knows? Women are still second class citizens in so many if not all cultures. You’re so right about girls being the losers. Did you ever read Merrill’s book about RAPE? I bought it and read it, totally incredible collection of things but made me FURIOUS as so many dismiss such things as attention seeking or unimportant. Don’t understand it. At least your girls have YOU as their mum and role model no matter what even if you disagree it will help them in their lives as it has already in countless ways.

      5. It’s not the same for boys at all. It changes nothing for them. Girls die from being mutilated and often die while giving birth because they’ve been sewn back up again so tightly. Bloody barbaric.

      6. Exactly I mean I could argue that foreskin removal is bad also but it’s not in the same league I agree. Bit like the ‘husbands stitch’ which was in the UK in the sixties where they tightened the vaginas of women after birth as a present for the husband. Gross.

      7. If the wise old men who run religions want to impose an unnecessary mutilation on men, let them do it—you can be certain it won’t affect their pleasure or their performance one iota. But when old men impose pain, suffering, infection and often death on girls to stop them having any pleasure, then I say NO!!!!

  4. Well. I for one like your newfound willingness to emote. You always did but less obviously. It suits you because it’s real and relatable and beautiful in it’s sadness. I knew you could do any style but I most like the you behind you.

    1. I’m pleased you do 🙂 It’s all about mood, I think. There just seems to be so much to get angry/upset/despairing about. Sometimes the emotions are only just below the surface.

      1. Selfishly I like it when you let it out because it’s another side to you and you do it so well. After all if we are too careful in our expression we may miss out on sharing the parts of us that we didn’t even know could move people so much

      2. True. I guess what I meant and didn’t express well, is I like it when more of you is on the page. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the non-you things, as your fantasy writing is top notch but as your friend I suppose it’s a window into your soul hence my appreciation. 🙂

      3. I know what you mean. As you say, it’s important to let these things out. Otherwise our writing is like the junk agents ask us to write because they think they can sell it.

  5. As ‘ The great Hammer of History ‘ recedes into the past its sound diminishes. We all hear it loud and clear as we travel through our own lives but it takes up new causes all the time and the old ones pass into silence.

    1. True. What was important at one time ceases to be. But that could be because some problems have been resolved, or at least we’ve progressed to a stage where we can understand and reject.

  6. You are right some things do get sorted and others prove a worthless noise over nothing. I have a job to tell which is which so I’m a bit hesitant to take much action although now age has me in a tightening grip.

      1. I’m afraid you’re right. We dwell on the horrible crimes committed by unhinged people who enjoy inflicting suffering, but the really massive scale killings all have money and power at their root.

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