A woollen blanket on his back –
treads the winding dirt track;
a pilgrimage, this – to his old,
home-town, once Afghanistan’s
royal showpiece, fifteen miles west
of Kabul. Today, only ghosts stay on;
razed to the ground, the late King’s
villa with its priceless Italian tiles,
three kitchens and a golf course.
Its arch of triumph – a paltry pair
of pillars; the top – blown away...
elegant, swan-necked lamp posts
rusting where they fell...
Pastel pink walls of the Bahar Hotel,
gape at moody, shell-shocked skies.
On an avenue, once lined with nut-trees,
and with poplars, four Doric columns
mark the entrance to a pile of rubble
where the mosque had stood. He comes
to pray for his wife, three sons and two
daughters; a direct hit – a rocket, some
ten years since. ‘‘Everyone bombs us,
now,” he says. “Al Qaeda, Taliban,
Nato, and so called ‘Government’.”
A plume of smoke, that morning, tainting
fields and orchards he’d tended all his life;
its stench – permeates his every nightmare.
A fractured picture frame – remnants
of a house with the sky for a roof; a mound
of rocks and a slender pole where a green flag
limply hangs, mark their grave. Lays six,
crimson roses, growing wild, at the side
of the road on one-time lush verges; turned
septic – mined, so dangerous, few venture
there. “Nothing remains,” he tells them.
No anger in his voice. Just pain.