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What Fell, and Other Ways of Seeing August 15th

By Sahar Muradi

“On the 14th of August 2021, we were doing the usual routine— we were on the way from TOLOnews to our homes—but this time was totally different. . . . There was a darkness that we had never seen before this: everyone running to their homes and no one knowing what would happen. . . . This was just 12 hours before the Taliban would take over power for the second time. After this moment, we never experienced our daily lives the same again. After this, everything changed.”

--From the essay “Me and Shogofa: A Memory of the 14th of August 2021” by journalist Fawad Akbarzai

K says what fell?
R says prices have shot up
I says our people did not fall
M says we have so much more to lose if we leave
R says the gardens are still awash in green
N says he was arrested
S says he is still dubbing films, just quietly
R says a mother sits in the road shrieking at every passing car
D says there is no future
M says history is a circle
R says his son is getting engaged to the girl in New Jersey
P says at least the fighting has stopped
D says the first snowfall in Kabul is still magical
N says Peshawar is impossible, better to be sick in your own home
S says they told him he could act again, just not beside women
J says there is no work
D says my sister cries every day, she was in her last year
R says they’ll do it in the front yard—yes, with music—and the girl’s family will dial in
         from Elizabeth
M says what can we do now, we missed our chance
P says they came at night, woke her up, searched her home, but they were very respectful
R says it was a beautiful time, his daughters danced in sequins
A says what’s the point of leaving to end up in a tent, working three jobs and broken?
J says please don’t forget us
N says he will hide in his village, he will shelter in the love of his people




Listen as Sahar Muradi reads What Fell, and Other Ways of Seeing August 15th.

Added: Friday, January 19, 2024  /  Used with permission.
Sahar Muradi
Photo by Christopher Lucka.

Sahar Muradi is author of the collection OCTOBERS, selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the 2022 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and a finalist for the National Poetry Series. She is author of the chapbooks [ G A T E S ], Ask Hafiz, A Garden Beyond My Hand, and A Ritual in X Movements. She is co-editor, with Seelai Karzai, of EMERGENC(Y): Writing Afghan Lives Beyond the Forever War, An Anthology of Writing from Afghanistan and its Diaspora; and, with Zohra Saed, of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature. Sahar lives in New York City, where she directs the arts education programs at City Lore and dearly believes in the bottom of the rice pot. Learn more at Sahar's website.

Image Description: Sahar Muradi sits on the grounds of a garden before a fallen, overgrown tree with chains on it. She faces the camera and wears a black t-shirt, red lipstick, and a golden Arabic “waw” earring. Her dark, waist-length hair touches the ground.

Other poems by this author