For the Women

Once more, rocks wait in stadiums of dust.
Hands press to wounded heads or claw the dust.

The people silence singing, shutter shops.
Razors all stilled, beards draw the Afghan dust;

Red poppies are destroyed and laughter ends.
The fields lie fallow, raw, returned to dust.

Bearded Pashtuns eye every shadowed street,
Salvage the holy law from boot-stomped dust.

Young soldiers marched away, taking their bombs.
The female teachers’ graves merge straw with dust.

The rivers freeze below the Khyber pass.
Come summer, flesh will thaw to mix with dust

Near Peshawar, a sister has transgressed.
Her purple thumb, whipsawn, collects the dust.

An unveiled face once more courts suicide.
And girls, forbidden books, withdraw to dust.

The women all retreat behind burkas.
Each temptress hidden from flawed men of dust.

A man exits a cave above the plains.
His followers, in awe, kneel in the dust.

First published at Writers for Human Rights

©2011 JP Reese


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