Denise Levertov

'She wept, and the women consoled her'

The flow of tears ebbed, 
her blouse began to dry. 
But the sobs that 
took her by the shoulders and  
shook her came back 
for unknown reasons 
and shook her again, like soldiers 
coming back when everyone had gone. 
History's traffic had speeded up and 
smashed into gridlock all around her; 
the women consoled her but she couldn't get out.  
Bent forward as she was, 
she found herself looking at her legs. 
They were old, the skin 
shiny over swollen ankles, 
and blotched. They meant nothing to her 
but they were all she could see. 
Her fallen tears had left their traces 
like snail-tracks on them.