from previous issues  of Southlight



Cutting Fodder in Afghanistan

Butterfly bright,

in riotous rose-patterned frocks,

hunkered down all afternoon,

amongst milk-white clover,

purple vetch and pink shaftal

with its heady, sugar-almond scent –

three women, with careless rhythmic ease

slice swathes of fodder.


Voices drifting

on pollen-laden air

dissect their world’s events –

will Miriam’s baby be here for Eid?

the calf born last week,

crickets eating Moosa’s wheat,

and who caused Basma to hide her smile,

yesterday at the well?


Sweat runs ignored

down dirt-streaked faces,

arms ache for rest

but no one stops till

heavy creels flow over.

Each helps the other hoist her load,

rise to her feet.

They move away spines straight, shoulders back –

reluctant queens –

heads forced high by leather straps.


 Mary Smith in Southlight 12