These poems are dedicated to the women of Afghanistan, and I thank Kenia at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads for introducing us to the landai, the form of which is explained below in notes, along with other information. This is also on the sidebar at Poets United and at ABC Wednesday, where we are on the letter “J.” This is my favorite J word. Peace, Amy
JUSTICE for women in oppressive regimes
How can ‘women’s spirits hold up half the sky’*
when their earthbound selves swelter under the burqa
Women nurture their baby boys at swollen breasts
only to watch them grow up and oppress their mothers
I am ten paces behind my husband, I make out his shape through net
I am ten generations behind my husband – this burqa, my ceiling
She wanted only to read, write, work figures, create
Acid was tossed in my little girl’s face for this grave sin
Mullah in the madrassa, my brother’s fate in his hands
Mother in the market, her fate already decided
How can I find peace with Americans on my street
when uniforms and guns serve as their faces?
The Prophet (PBUH)** elevated women to rights and inheritance
Ayatollahs strip us of those rights and instead force upon us burqas
On a day I will never live to see, my daughter will shed her burqa,
renounce the veil, leave this town, go to university, be free
© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
* Kenia encouraged cooperation and playing off one another’s landai. This line, an old Chinese proverb, was used in a landai by Sherry Blue Sky – view her collection HERE.
** “Peace Be Upon Him,” traditionally said after invoking the name of either “The Prophet” or “The Prophet Mohammed.”
NOTES: According to Kenia at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads:
“The word landai means “short, poisonous snake” in Pashto. The poems are (two lines and) collective — no single person writes a landai; a woman repeats one, shares one. It is hers and not hers. Although men do recite them, almost all are cast in the voices of women.”
I had only to think of a movie I saw yesterday, Kandahar (2001). A woman who had escaped Afghanistan years before seeks to return, as her sister has written she plans to take her own life. Based on the story of Nelofer Pazira, who stars in the movie, I was struck by how the burqas had festive colors, since the burqa itself stands as a disgrace upon the leaders of conservative nations. It is a socioeconomic stance, country by country, as to what women are allowed to wear, whether they may attend school… whether they can stay alive when they fall down and accidentally show an ankle. Another movie about the lives of women in brutal regimes, also based on a true story – tough to watch but important to witness: The Stoning of Soraya M.