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Sunday, January 19, 2014


by Rick Gray

AFP photo source: BBC

                 for Alexis Kamerman, shot to death by the Taliban
                 while dining at Taverna Du Liban, Kabul, on January 17, 2014 

Near our exit door, on the white check-out board
you can still read the name Alexis.

Her magic markings cry TAVERNA, her destination written
with the subtle, unarmed wrist of a woman's flair

that swept her outside, her uncovered hair running wild
like a river of light into war's grudging, dark valleys.

That was before she reached TAVERNA, where Kamal Hamide
poured miracles of sweet red wine from discreet teapots

and winked over the charms and the affairs, all conspiring against
the rotting paradise of the expired minds plotting outside.

A covered head grunted a cheap God is Great into a filthy street
and crouched like a jackal against Kamal's welcoming gate,

and before we could say farewell, or rush her away
all our misfit Kabul dreams exploded into the twisted shape of every mean thing,

except Alexis, and one perfect, eternal word,
a written destination untouchable.

No one in this silent house today dare lift a rough, empty hand
to erase it. It was the last word. It was a woman's secret farewell.

None of us, or them, can ever break her spell.

Rick Gray has work currently appearing in Salamander and has an essay forthcoming in the book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. He served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and teaches in Kabul, Afghanistan.