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Sport 37: Winter 2009

from Afghanistan

page 34

from Afghanistan

Do you remember the music?
Do you remember the trees?

I remember this,
said the river:

The snow will melt,
the poppies will grow,

the opium will be harvested.
The foreigners will come,

the foreigners will go.
It will begin to snow.


Headless in a bloody pool, his master:
Ahmad Shah, at 24, fled east

to Kandahar, the gathered clan,
rival upon rival, till a rival laid

a strand of wheat across his head.
Blades of grass between their teeth,

yokes of cloth around their necks—
to show they would be his cattle—

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chiefs who have always shared power (Mr.
K) by choosing the weakest as leader.


'Grief clings to my heart like a snake.
I forget the throne of Delhi

when I remember
the mountaintops of my Afghan land.'

Because of his fondness for pearls,
Abdali became Durrani,

who looted a caravan of treasure,
paid an army to sack west and east—

from Khorasan to India,
the emperor of grief.


I would not pray,
so my father put me out;

I went to Kabul
but it was still Afghanistan:

a few hours of power a day,
constant extortion.

Two million, three: why are we here?
War killed as many. This much is clear:

blood on the road to Kandahar,
bones on the road to Panjshir.

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Here's Miss Snowflake in Peshawar
with Congressman Wilson—

Good Time Charlie!—packing
Cia money for Stingers

that know how to find the heat
at the heart, from here to Herat,

of what he would call the Cold War—
'It was very clandestine,' recalled Miss Snowflake.

'It was just very, very exciting to be in that room
with those men with their huge white teeth.'


Agfa, or Fuji, washed out
seventies photographs with flares:

Daoud could be said
in Agfacolor or Afghacolor to have been,

to have been seen,
in the shadow of the mountains,

in the light of later fates,
as the least of the worst

before the shutter sliced us
back into darkness:


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The Aryan night,
the Achaemenid night,
the Persian night,
the Bactrian night,
the Seleucid night,
the Mauryan night,
the Scythian night,
the Parthian night,
the Kushan night,
the Sassanid night,
the Kidarite night,
the Hephthalite night,
the Samanid night,
the Ghaznavid night,
the Seljukid night,
the Ghorid night,
the Mongol night,
the Timurid night,
the Mughal night,
the Durrani night,
the Victorian night,
the Edwardian night,
the Barakzai night,
the Soviet night,
the Mujahed night,
the Taliban night

and now because you are sending more men
you want us to say the sun has risen.


I would not pray, it would
only make things more Afghan, you

understand? If
you don't understand, there are

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Afghans in the park (there
are questions in the dark)—

Hazara, Aimak, Pashtun, Uzbek, Tajik:
there are Afghans becoming Afghans

in the dark, in the park,
why don't you ask them.


Someone will come for the turban and shoes.
Someone will come for Afghanistan

and find Afghanistan:
gate blown through a gate,

shards that have been shards for years,
shards that were only yesterday.

Hazara, Aimak, Pashtun, Uzbek, Tajik:
someone will come as they have always come

over the mountains, over and over,
from Afghanistan to Afghanistan.