The Woman Lying On The Bridge

Woman On The Bridge

It’s like – you don’t want to think about it. You hear it on the news, some of it sinks in.

You catch a photograph of a woman on the bridge, in total and utter shock. She stares at the camera, her eyes ablaze, perhaps she is wondering, ‘why are they taking photographs of me lying on the ground’.

This odd conflict between news reportage and human dignity. This frail co-mingling of trust and distrust. The coldness of the photographer’s eye, in the heat of near death. And yet, we want the record, the report, the captured shot, the information, the foodstuff of news.

London was next on the list, they said, and they were right. The Police Commissioner was prepared for battle, they said, but the woman lying on the bridge was not prepared – mown down and flayed in the street. An innocent going about her business, what part did she play in this political storm? Did she send the bombs that destroy children, or did she laugh at the prophet?

There was a guy, a musician, he had a wife and a dream – he came to London with a smile, and died on the steps of Westminster. Didn’t he read the news? London is next on the list, they said.

There was a friendly policeman. He had blue eyes. He appears in photo albums around the world. Gone.

We sit at our desks in our offices, open-mouthed and afraid – but only for a moment.

Because now they are gathering up culprits, but more will spring like weeds. We will hate them, and they will hate us. Our leaders will make defiant statements, and we will never be cowed. But neither will they.

So we carry on – this strange pairing of opposites.

War continues, but the innocent do not have fortresses and palaces. They walk unguarded on the streets of London and Damascus, and Paris.

The woman on the bridge, so cooly captured on camera, she may live or she may die.

It’s up to us.

Peace to the world.

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