When You Google Afghan Girl


She’s everywhere, the girl with mint-green eyes

that one from National Geographic, her burnt-red shawl


romantic even, but that’s gone when she’s found at 30.

Her brother says, She never knew happiness except the day she married.


And then – girls who’ve had things done to them by men who wanted

to get inside them, men who wanted that for other men.


What scissors can do to a nose. How acid rivulets

into a kind of pulled cherry taffy nestling the neck. There are girls


dressed up with their bearded grooms, then later in hospital beds,

next to girls who thought to snap a flame open


and leave with the sweet spark of their own match.


So by the time you arrive at girls reading inside their classroom,

how do you trust what you see, not leap ahead to the roadside bomb,


the mad soldier, the father doing what he has to.

Two girls walking in a market, two others whispering, a giggle even,


girls who stand with their mother and father and sisters and brothers.

The 10-year-old who fled her husband, found passage to a surprised judge.


What makes an image truth? and when does it translate,

“You think you are close but you aren’t.”


You go back, read what the photographer said when someone asked

what she was like, the first girl, the one who still stares


back at us, back when she was a girl. She was surprised, he said. She was angry.



Originally published on the San Miguel Writers Conference blog.

Winner of the 2012 San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference Award in Poetry.