“Zarmina took solace in writing love poems and reading to the women of Mirman Baheer by phone. Then came the spring day in 2010 when Zarmina got caught reading these poems and her brothers beat her. A couple of weeks later, according to her aunt, when the girl was cleaning the house, she locked a door behind her and set herself alight.”—The New York Times, April 2012
she called in from the highlands
refused a secret silence
her words wildfire against poppy and stone:
This is happening to me. Do you care?
a landai is a snake
a woman weaves like a flower
in her warrior’s braid
on the other line the poets heard
the sibilance stooped for it as it slithered by
the skin peeled like syllables
Are you listening?
her sister heard, teasing at the stream
but fearful also how many lovers do you have?
her mother heard
stroked silence across her cheek
when her brothers heard
they thought boy they thought man
they rose like mad winds
she gathered her burqa
like sandstone around her
her verses were flowers
she flowered with bruises
Are you there?
a heart is a humming on a henna night,
a drum beat at a wedding feast
she wrote she would wilt: