Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time: this poem refers to a fairytale in which the hero sets off to fight the Black Demon, aided by the White Demon and the magic powers of a sack with a mirror, a comb and a strand of hair. Fairytales traditionally start with the refrain, ‘There was one, there wasn't one, apart from God, there was no one'.
Mimi Khalvati, Poet-translator
Notes on the literal translation:
 A friend of the poet, herself a poet, who suffered an incredibly hard life, lost her whole family in Afghanistan's wars and herself died of cancer.
 Refers to a fairytale in which the main character sets off to fight the Black Demon, aided by the White Demon, who gives him a magic sack with a mirror, a comb and a strand of hair to help him fight off obstacles. Refers also to Leyla's own hard life and her tendency to despondency, as well as her unrequited love.
Zuzanna Olszewska, Literal Translator