maghrib in afghanistan
“In summer, the sun refuses to set; instead, it whirls
overhead in a clockwise circle, twenty-four hours a day.”
— Jack Weatherford, Native Roots
I want to buy my mother a house
but poetry doesn’t buy houses.
Doesn’t pay bills.
Doesn’t even pay for inexpensive things.
She’s always worrying.
I can’t even buy her
the little things so she won’t.
I want to become a doctor.
Maybe perform surgeries of some kind.
I don’t know the Dari word for poetry.
Don’t know how to tell her
this is the only thing that heals me,
that stitches me up after the world
and its doctors and its pharmacists
cut me open.
I don’t know how to tell her
I can’t buy her a house
but will try to build one
with my hands, my fingers.
We never talk. Don’t use words,
metaphors, stories anymore
of old Afghanistan—
the way she knew it.
I write about that place sometimes
when the scar tissue is healed
enough to deal with.
When the skin I'm in is ready
to reveal that this is the doctor
my immigrant parents
needed to feel accomplished.
In summer in Afghanistan,
poets hide behind the sun.
It never sets. There's just our fingers
fidgeting above the day,
trying to get something right.
Coming up for air in between
nightmares of tangerine clouds
to remind us how much is left to write;
How many houses we need to build.
That there's so much blood.
I still keep glow in the dark stars on my ceiling.
A few years back,
I felt I was growing too fast.
I missed the way
our room was covered in stars
and black letter decals of your favorite bands
(Lips, that's the one I can remember)
Today, you came home after years
of me misplacing your face.
I wonder how many people
you've spent your time
in bands and stars inside.
How many people you've told,
“you're the little sister I never had” while
the empty space in my room.
I keep a twin sized mattress across my king bed.
It sits next to the large windowsill you used to live beside,
you poured yourself into
the rooftop right out the window.
You first peed your pants as a teen
our old neighbor threatened to call the cops on you.
You sat there on that rooftop
and watched me throw the first punch,
watched me lose all those childhood years.
Today, you came back.
Decided enough time has passed,
decided to remember your roots
I think you just missed watching me mess up,
watching my fingers fidget around your decals.
The stars finally decided to go out,
as you sit in bed with me.
I can't see anything, it's so dark.
what we chose to leave behind
Later that night,
I watch God pin down my father to the hard cold of our small living room,
His leg above his knee,
limbs starting to look like they never belonged to him,
his arms across the ends of the room and suddenly,
this house is finally
big enough to hold our grief,
all of it in the world.
Hajjar Baban is a Pakistani-born Afghan Kurdish poet. She currently lives in Dearborn, MI where she is a senior at Fordson High with dual enrollment at Henry Ford Community College.
Hajjar’s first poetry slam came by way of a Google search. Since that search, Hajjar found InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit, where she started writing. She has been published in the Mindfields anthology Hajjar has also performed in poetry slams, featured at Oakland University, and read poems for WDET 101.9 FM and at DIWAN Forum for the Arts.
She believes poetry is extremely important because it helped her speak about so many topics, many of which are shunned by society because they come from youth. Editing poetry is equally as important to her because it allows her to work on herself as a poet while helping other youth perfect their poetry to become the way they envisioned it.
When she makes it through her final year in high school, Hajjar is making plans to study Creative Writing and Sociology.
Oh, and, it’s pronounced HA-jer.