My Beautiful and Lovely Kandahar

harvested poppies

I love the fresh fruit, the dry fruit: pomegranates,
raisins, figs. I love the kohl, henna and bangles,
the clothing, pottery, flowers, gardens. I remember
the village girls fighting, reconciling. I remember
wedding parties for our dolls, paper ships rising
on rainwater. I miss the stories from grandmothers,
handmade embroidery, the early morning birdsong.
I miss collecting wheat, miss flavors. I have questions
for the enemies of my city. Why do you plant poppies
instead of pomegranates? Why do you draw blood
instead of henna on the hands of girls? Why do you
put chains instead of bangles on our wrists? Was it
our fault? Is that why we have these coffins? I want
back my happy homeland, my smiling faces. I want
God to erase all this violence, these screaming mothers,
this sky of smoke. I am not weak and small anymore.
I will not let them destroy my city. I have speech
for those who would silence speech. My heart burns
to explain these problems, this terror, with honesty.
People are scared of losing their fingers if they vote,
scared of losing their sons if they work in the government,
scared of going outside. The Taliban will throw acid
in our eyes. Don’t think that I don’t see. You grow
narcotics in the yard, make us busy with them, sick
and useless. How will you hide from judgment?
You will not. I will work hard for my city. I will love
you until the end of my life. My beautiful and lovely
Kandahar, I will not let the hearts inside our people break.

By Shogofa Az

Photo by Zyance


  1. Thank you so much, Shogofa for producing this powerful, beautiful piece! Your words shine a ferocious light onto these brutal realities… thank you for your courage and strength. It’s such an honor to work with you!

  2. Dearest Shogofa: You do a fine and lovely job of evoking your homeland. The beauty and the pain. I am proud to read your work–your poetry and your prose. These specific details–the images that we can see, that we could paint if you asked us to, they make your work especially strong. Please keep writing! Stacy

  3. So happy to see this post was honored as a BlogHer “Voices of the Year” winner!

  4. I liked the details you chose to contrast, the bangles to chains, the henna to blood. Congratulations on your VOTY award!


  1. […] via Afghan Women’s Writing Project | My Beautiful and Lovely Kandahar. […]

  2. […] favorite poem in Washing the Dust from Our Hearts is “My Beautiful and Lovely Kandahar” by a woman named Shogofa, the link to which is on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project website. […]

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