Poems that belong to noone and everyone

The two-line poems reveal much about the usually hidden inner lives of Afghan women. They are often anonymous and are sung aloud, mostly by illiterate people, often to the beat of a hand drum.


Landays began among nomads and farmers. They were shared around a fire, sung after a day in the fields or at a wedding. More than three decades of war has diluted a culture, as well as displaced millions of people who can’t return safely to their villages. Conflict has also contributed to globalization. Now, they also reflect a country at war and people share landays virtually via the internet, Facebook, text messages, and the radio.


***       May God make you into a riverbank flower

so I may smell you when I gather water.      ***


***     I call. You’re stone.

One day you’ll look and find I’m gone.         ***


***     Climb to the brow of the hill and sight

where my darling’s caravan will sleep tonight.      ***


***     You sold me to an old man, father.

May God destroy your home, I was your daughter.         ***


***     I’ll kiss you in the pomegranate garden. Hush!

People will think a goat’s stuck in the underbrush.          ***