Stars don’t shine here
like they do under Kabul nights.
I’ve planted the same garden,
but the trees feel fruitless.
I’m on the same road, but it’s different
than the one where I played with mud,
making cow shapes.
In my dry truth now, I can’t sing a song.
Words are locked away. My voice
breathes in, exhales the distance of exile.
I miss waiting in front of the
bakery to buy my favorite cookie.
I miss my mom’s laughter,
her smell, the way she moves her hands.
I miss, even, the soil of my father’s grave.
On winter days, the warm air
came from the stove in the corner.
My pockets full of
Everything is here in my new room,
a pen mirror
But I am the restless woman again.
Burgers and a cone from Super IceCream.
I couldn’t find these tastes anywhere
with Karima, Sahar, Rabia, Marwa.
I miss our girlish talk and dreams
of our wedding night, thinking
of living with a man.
This day looks like it will never end.
I am awake until midnight,
alone, alone here.
I carry this life,
on my hunched shoulders.
And the road ahead is
blocked by a wall of stones,
arranged like an unsolvable puzzle,
mortared in complicated destiny.
It is I, the woman in exile.
I have to tolerate myself—
I, the helpless, restless one.
Photo courtesy ISAF Media
A stunning poem, N. Just heart-hurting, but still beautiful despite the clear pain and loss you describe. A very moving poem. Made especially so by the specificity of your shared memories. Stacy
Such a powerful, heart breaking poem — beautifully written. Your last stanza is stunning and makes me cry. Amazing work. Nancy
I also brought this poem to the women in prison writing workshop. We loved the beautiful, rich details of the poem and all of us could feel and understand your restlessness. Thank you for inspiring us to feel and to think.