The Washing of my Feet

This picture/post is not for the orthodox politically correct reader.  Those are my white feet and those are my brown Indian girls who are washing them, with loving care as you see, and as I felt. Race and skin color cannot be the single identities that define our relationships.  The children don't see it that way and the rest of us shouldn't.  But I am aware of those PC opinions and judgments of what I do here, which is why I address the issue.  From the beginning I have talked about what it is like being white in an Indian world.  Sometimes it is irrelevant.  This is good.


The girls love to massage my head with coconut oil and to wash my feet and then massage with coconut oil.  They do this sometimes as I write at the computer.  We had just spent the morning cleaning the garden.  So what happens when they scrub my feet and my legs?  They remember their families, their mothers, fathers, siblings…. and they talk.  I heard more stories yesterday morning.  As they scrubbed I heard more about violence, about drinking, and about beatings.  A couple of times they stopped to show me scars, places where knives had cut, nails had been poked — and of course I already knew of the burns.  When we shaved their hair two years ago, we saw so many burns and scars…


I learned about villages where they had been… and they talked each repeating what the other said, as Greek chorus, in case I had missed it.  These girls love to nurture!  They are constantly alert to any scratches I might have, my scars, how I got them.  They want to take care of me.  This reminds me of another poem I wrote:




Worse than unloved is

To be unable to love,

The stars will not sing,

The trees will not bud,

The moon will not smile,

The earth will not thaw,

The wheat will not grow,

The sails will not fill,

The mind will not think,

The heart will not feel,

The night will not end,

The cradle will fall.

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May 2009
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