by Hajjar Baban

For so long after I could only fall asleep
in rooms without windows, beyond
sun or the sounds overhead.
(It could have been a wet wash from God

or the plumbing). In the dark I can hear
past the padding, my mother speaking of returning
to Kabul and my sister not wanting to blame
her. It could happen in a hotel, or a restaurant;

and then she’d be asking for it—but here,
who knows if she will find herself a friend again.
(In a car away from the village, maybe one

among several others). I’m afraid it’s true,
mother: once you’ve felt scarce inside, that heavy
hollow, there is no more rest. You can only be

willing for danger, awake all night, a reincarnate
trading thin layers of metal for a lesson
to your daughter.

Hajjar Baban is a Pakistan-born Afghan Kurdish poet. A 2021 PD Soros Fellow and current MFA in Poetry candidate at the University of Virginia, she has poems appearing in The Adroit Journal, Frontier Poetry, and Foundry, among others. You can find her work here: