I work for Kabul’s amusement park.
At first, I met with merchants who
gave food when I gave in. And you
might say we bartered in the black
bazaar of Kabul. What must I do
when my small girls go to the school
in socks, in dirt, no bread? To sell
my meat that reeks the spermy smell
of men’s things is more right in my mind.
Though there’s no word inside my mind.
Pneumonia killed my man. Who cares
for widows? You do? I use coils
and heart pills but I bleed at nights.
To eat I must amuse. Who cares?
From the vantage point of: a prostitute, Kabul, 2011
Please, don’t tell me about good hope when I
saw clotted bloody coating rise and fall
in her nose. Her hung tongue wheezed a hell
of blood. It was fear. Fear. And fear. Her eyes
had bulged. My sister’s wrist was resting on
her half-torn throat. The memory is a tremor.
That morning she made me sweet tea and bread
and said, “One day you will become a doctor;
now go to school.” I went. When I returned,
the door was broken, things were wrecked inside
the house. I thought, “It’s theft?” No, it was not.
That Talib asked to marry him. God, God.
And she said, “No.” Then I saw what I saw.
I saw my sister living, yet chopped meat.
From the vantage point of: a girl, 10, Kabul, 2009
The neighbor girl eloped a year ago
to somewhere in Iran. Here we say it’s
a freer land. They fled. The child had no
cash for “bride price.” Our parents sell us girls;
we’re their income. The marriage rite. Ah, yes.
They fled but got deported five months later.
Back home, it wasn’t like you think, their folks
almost received them, spoke to them with their
knives, said they were a big disgrace. Men from
both families cut off the heads in their barn,
said, “Blood will wash away this shame.” Kabul
stinks of fear. The fear kills and it makes
you flee. We’d gone to our rooftop and saw.
The young girl’s head fell down, and kissed the earth.
From the vantage point of: a teenage girl, Kabul, 2010