Skip to Content


By Zohra Saed

Behave or the sleeping Alexander will reclaim your lungs.

Kandahar -
          Was once a cube of sugar
Refusing to dissolve in the sea.
It became a city from sheer stubbornness.

Alexander naively said,
"This is my land!"

causing the earth to giggle and birth him a wife
Rukhshana. (Roxanna if you prefer).
This wife refused to dissolve in his sea.

We know how the bright sun found him
The next day - snuffed by an ornate embroidered pillow -
The pillow and the three drops of Alexandrian blood
Have been preserved by the mountains.

Kandahar could never be Alexandria after that delicious murder.

Added: Monday, July 7, 2014  /  Originally published in "notebook #105" from documenta(13). Used with permission.
Zohra Saed

Zohra Saed is the co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press). Her poetry has appeared in: Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War, Faith and Sexuality, Ed. Sarah Hussein (Seal Press); Speaking for Herself: Asian Women's Writings, Ed. Sukrita Paul Kumar and Savita Singh (Penguin India); Seven Leaves One Autumn, Ed. Sukrita Paul Kumar and Savita Singh (Rajkamal Prakashan Publishing: New Delhi, India); and most recently Sahar Muradi & Zohra Saed: Misspelled Cities (Notebook #105, documenta 13).

Other poems by this author