Kabul

by Shakila Azizzada

If my heart beats
for Kabul,
it's for the slopes of Bala Hissar,
holding my dead
in its foothills.
 
Though not one, not one
of those wretched hearts
ever beat for me.
 
If my heart grieves
for Kabul,
it's for Leyla's sighs of
‘Oh, dear God!'
and my grandmother's heart
set pounding.
 
It's for Golnar's eyes
scanning the paths
from dawn to dusk, spring to autumn,
staring so long
that all the roads fall apart
and in my teenage nightmares
side roads
suddenly shed their skins.
 
If my heart trembles
for Kabul,
it's for the slow step of summer noons,
siestas in my father's house which,
heavy with mid-day sleep,
still weighs on my ribs.

For the playful Angel of the Right Shoulder
who keeps forgetting
to ward away stray bullets.
 
It's for the hawker's cry
of the vegetable seller doing his rounds,
lost in my neighbours' troubled dreams,
that my heart's trembling.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska

The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati

Notes

Bala Hissar: an ancient citadel in Kabul with a cemetery outside its walls.

Angel of the Right Shoulder: one of the angelic Keraman Katebin, who sit on the shoulders of believers, recording their good and evil deeds.

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