This week, a hero was shot down.
A girl, barely become a woman who spoke out for a woman’s right to education and literacy.
She spoke out about the militants invading her valley in Pakistan.
She was on her way home from school when cowards opened fire on her and her schoolmates. She was struck in the head and neck.
But those cowards failed, she breathes still.
Her courageous heart beats still.
The world is praying for her.
And all I have to offer is this poem, meant to be spoken, meant to ring out like freedom.
Brave Malala, a girl barely become woman
Yet fully possessed of the courage of women
You stood tall in your native Pakistan,
Speaking out about the invading Taliban
For denouncing their views in plain view,
And writing your dreams to shame them in the news
You were shot down, coming home from school
Such a simple wish as yours, interrupted by fools
You know the worth of words and works
Of stepping out and reaching for higher worlds
Believing in better days, played out in the sun
Woman and men robbed of dignity, indignant, and joined as one
Cowards with guns turned on you in their ire
Barely men, not worthy of the word, they opened fire
But your blazing heart is stronger yet, beating them as you live still,
Because a father’s pride, in you a pride of person, instilled
Malala, my hero.
Gleaming jewel in the crown of your people
Your idyllic valley invaded by militants’ evil
Crushing schools and silencing music
But to fear and trembling you would not submit
Your warrior heart does your people credit
With military might, Allies pushed Taliban out of Afghanistan
But by dark of night, Taliban dug in, spreading hate into Pakistan
Women and girls became a threat in their own home
They would have to hide their hearts, and let learning go
Firing guns, throwing acid and intimidations?
Ensuring that girls can’t rise to lead the nation?
These goons and puppets of empty ideology
Hating all of those who would be free
Cowed by a woman
Couldn’t cover up your light
Couldn’t hide you under a bushel
So they ambushed you
Tried to stomp out your spark
Holding on to their dying dark
If you die, they say you’ll be a martyr,
But all I want is for you to have the chance to become a mother
To give birth to hope, in order that the cycle is stopped
And light of day will break on that valley, called Swat
They say if you live, they’ll come after you again
Nowhere is safe for a woman who speaks against
Their littleness and evil vision, their twisted mission
But where is safe, when we pretend this cancer’s in remission?
Brave Malala, a hero of might
Brave Malala a candle burning bright
Barely a woman of fourteen,
And fully a woman, warrior and queen
You spoke for Literacy, Equality, and dreaming
Opening your mouth, as I do now, cost you dearly
So I will raise my voice for you, while you lie sleeping
And pray that a brighter world greets you when you wake from dreaming.