Months spent weaving the same rug,
Threads thickening between Shasanna and her mother,
Like twigs in a nest, which her grandmother’s rolling white eye
Never stops watching. Days spent bent over, soak her bones in pain,
Dissolved by the magic smoke.
The dust jumps as the guns
March closer, boom boom boom. The guns
Are coming to steal the rug
That they have so nearly completed! “Or the smoke
That I need more than food,” says Mother.
Shasannah’s calloused ten-year-old hands have started trembling with pain
Without it. It puts the gleam in Grandmother’s blind eye.
Dust swirls around the room and clings to Shasanna’s eye.
She fears being blind when the guns
Smash down the door, spitting shouts and red pain,
Tearing and trampling the brown rug
Generations wove on the gnarled loom. Mother and daughter. Daughter and mother,
Hoping to sell it to buy a spoonful of medicine, not smoke.
Shasanna gulps down a pipeful of sugary poppy-smoke.
Too much in one gasp stings her eyes
And she shrieks. “Ssshhh, your father,” warns her mother.
“Where is your father? We will hunt him down!” bluster the guns.
Shasanna’s lashes flutter like birds’ wings, blurring the rug.
Rather than healing, this sharpens the pain.
Scars from yesterday stretch their claws of pain,
“Shasanna, don’t waste the smoke”
Says her grandmother. After weaving her bones into sixty rugs,
The smoke does not let the light through her left eye,
Or seal her ears from the thunder of guns,
Or give back her name that is buried with her mother.
“Give her the pipe, girl,” snaps Mother,
Envying Shasanna, who is yet to know real pain.
She snatches it, watched by the barrel of the gun
Strapped to the wall, guarding their supply of smoke
From the poor and pain-racked with bony eyes.
It is more important than a loom in weaving a rug.
When the guns breathe smoke on their doorstep,
Grandmother, mother, and daughter will clutch their pain,
And hide their eyes behind the rug’s thick weave.
© Rosemary J. Collins
Sharp rise in Afghan drug addicts, UN report says
Rosemary is 18 and currently waiting for her A-level results, which will, hopefully, allow her to study English at university. Her dream is to have a book published.