To buy his family’s safety, your father spends every Afghani
he has saved for the last 30 years. Your mother sells
her jewelry so she can feed you and your brothers and sisters.
Your brother gives up his beloved car, and you
give up your education because you have no other option.
Gunfire and rockets, like the devil screaming,
wake you in the middle of the night.
The explosions vibrate through your heart.
Nothing can calm you, not even the arms
of your mother.
You see torn bodies on the TV.
Mothers lie crying over their sons’ corpses.
Widows weep for their children:
Who will feed them today?
War means living in fear, with families torn apart.
Flowers lose their color, become gray.
Dark circles under your eyes, your skin pale,
you see everything in black and white,
cannot feel the sun’s warmth, the wind’s breeze,
see how bright the moon and stars.
Your best friend flees to another place—you
miss her, become lonely, isolated. She was the one
you shared your secrets with and played with.
You don’t feel safe without her, not even in your own room.
War means poverty. People kill for food.
Parents sell their children. Children sell opium.
Girls marry old men. Teenagers take responsibilities
that are too big. They feel old, begin to be cruel,
see things they shouldn’t—do things they shouldn’t.
You see women killed. Of course, they have been raped first,
because they are honored by the enemies.
And yes, you see yourself used as a tool of war,
and sold because no one can protect you.
War makes the warlord thirstier and thirstier.
He cares only about himself, seeks to drink power,
becomes blind, deaf, a liar. With no laws, no rules,
you make no goals anymore for your unknown future.
You become cheap, worthless.
War means nightmares for you, your family,
your world. Every single sound scares you.
War tastes as terrible as it is. You have no appetite,
not even for your favorite meal.
Shoe and blood on a Kabul street after a suicide bomb attack on January 17, 2009. ISAF Photo by US Air Force Tech Sergeant Brenda Nipper.