Volume 31, Number 1

Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry

after The New York Times

Meena writes Landai, women’s poetry, two- line
constructions that pierce like swords.

May your airplane crash and may the pilot die
that you are pouring bombs on my beloved Afghanistan.

Meena whispers on her cell phone; a woman transcribes
the words, keepsakes for a secret literary Society.

I am shouting but you don’t answer—
One day, you’ll look for me and I’ll be gone from this world.

She doesn’t know her age, her birth date lost
to memory, her gender barely recorded.

Her memory will be a flower tucked into literature’s turban.
In her loneliness, every sister cries for her.

Landais throb to drumbeats, devil’s work decried
by the Taliban, wardens with kohl-rimmed eyes.

I am like a tulip in the desert. I die before I open,
and the waves of desert breeze blow my petals away.

When Meena’s intended steps on a land mine,
she is forced to marry his brother.

My beloved gave his head for our country
I will sew his shroud with my hair.

Meena sets herself on fire, skin crisping over words,
Earth swallowing her wounds.

On Doomsday, I will say aloud,
I came from the world with my heart full of hope

—Nadia Ibrashi

first appeared in Nimrod