Editor’s note: This poem was written for the International Day of the Girl, October 11, 2013.

I am one of those women with a wild imagination.
I imagine being free of harsh claws gripping my thoughts,
making me feel helpless and clueless.
I envision expressing myself
as free as a nobleman.
I do not mean curses and insults.
I mean free to speak up and make decisions.
I appeal for respect and love.

I am one of those women with a wild imagination.
I want to hold the stars, to be successful, accomplished.
But the distance seems a challenge.
How can I hold the stars with my small hand?
Maybe I need something to offer to be privileged
To embrace the stars.
Perhaps, a bigger hand—one full of gold
or money, but I don’t have those,
So I take refuge in patience,
and trust my beads of sweat—my efforts,
my diamonds.

I am one of those women with a wild imagination,
who yearns to see equality of Afghan men and women
in action and law. I want lovers to walk
in the streets of Kabul, Herat, Mazar,
holding hands, sharing hugs, in all cities
Free of harassment and harsh looks aimed at them like bullets.
I want women to drive cars, taxies, and buses—
I long to see Afghan women working with confidence, with strength.

I am one of those women with a wild imagination.
I want to see women running in the park,
unburdened by worries that someone may judge them,
women running for health, for leadership,
for president, women swimming, enjoying and changing society.

If I speak my wishes, my dreams,
I see smirks, deep cracks on their faces
Like valleys of darkness that pull me down,
as I stand on the edge
looking down at men and women whose cruel inner clowns
mock a woman’s struggle.

But I am a woman with a wild imagination,
puppets and clowns won’t steal my will
because my imagination is full of peace.
It is not wilder than the world in which it exists
It is wild because it is tired of being tamed.

By Mahnaz