by Sandra Rippetoe ©2020
for people all over the world who work to end hunger and poverty
There once was a woman walking across a huge land.
She was stopped at a wall by a tiny old man.
“Are you a have or a have-not?” he asked with a bow.
“You see this giant wall? It separates them now.
What you’ll find up ahead,” gestured the gnome,
“Is one side with mansions opposite small crowded homes.”
“ I guess I’m neither one . . . .not a have or a have-not.
I’m just a mere traveler. I walk quite a lot!”
“Well,” the gnome spoke, “You have to be one or the other.
What’s your career? Who’s your father and mother?”
“I am a poet,” the tired woman said.
“My mother is an artist though a king she did wed.”
“Hmmm. What a puzzle. A puzzle indeed.
You truly are neither according to creed.
Because of your father, you’re a have,” the gnome taught,
“But your career as a poet places you in the have-nots.”
He looked at her hand, “I don’t see a ring.
Are you not married? Perhaps to a king?
Sometimes a have-not crosses over the wall
if she’s young and beautiful. A man issues the call.
He gives her a ring and that lets her pass through.
Do you know a man here? Has that happened to you?”
He heard the woman sigh, “There’s no man in this town.
I’m not young or beautiful, so I doubt I’d be found.
So how can I pass through? What should I do?
The weather is good.” She looked up at sky’s blue.
“Since you don’t belong here . . . and . . . you don’t belong there,
you’ll have to cross the wall’s top, but do take great care.
There’s plenty of space for your small walking feet.
Please don’t get distracted by people you meet.”
So he helped her climb up to the top of the wall.
She steadied herself and prayed not to fall.
With an abundance of caution, she took the first step.
She was alone on that wall – no one could help.
The gnome bid her safe travels and waved a goodbye,
and warned, “Whatever you do – do NOT sit down and cry.”
She walked for four hours till the middle of day.
She tried hard not to look, but her eyes had their way.
She saw hungry children in ragged clothes with no shoes
as opposed to the well fed with full freedom to choose.
On the have-nots’ brown land, no water could be seen.
On the mansion side a river kept land fertile and green.
Can you guess what happened? Did she ignore what she saw?
The suffering of the have-nots . . . blessed by the town’s law?
She DID sit on that ledge and she DID begin to cry –
a river of tears – her eyes never went dry.
Her tears watered the land on the have-not side.
It became lush and green. Food grew far and wide.
Though their houses were cramped, people’s tummies were full.
Her tears were so needed, she wouldn’t budge nor be pulled.
For days, years, and centuries, she never made it across.
She stayed there so long, she’s now covered in moss.
This woman and her tears turned out to be wise.
People pay her respect at the stone wall that cries.