LETTER FROM DELHI TO KABUL
My sister, I have spent all day looking
for those jhumkas, heavy with silver.
I know you like them light, but heavy
is traditional, and I wanted you to have the best,
you had said, pressing the pendulums
into my palms. All morning I search
for the light you gave me—the sparkle
of glass beads—red, pink, blue,
green. I love Delhi—there I can go
to the mall alone, and it’s so safe.
Safe? I remember thinking,
such a relative term. Us, giggling
over popcorn at a movie in Kathmandu.
Exchanging notes on the pressures
to marry, make babies. Tap dancing
through a sunlit mall in Delhi. And now,
tanks take over your city, angry
fistfuls of men erupting from the earth.
My sister, how do I hold you
in prayer, your laughing eyes,
the way your scarf slips
when your hair catches the light?
—from Poets Respond
August 29, 2021
Kandala Singh: “It’s horrifying to see what the women of Afghanistan have to put up with under the Taliban’s rule, and to imagine what the future holds for them. This poem comes from a place of solidarity and horror.” (web)