Afghan Refugee by Rohan Chhetri

From her shoulder blade the background softens,
where her scarf, once-draped over her head, vanishes
into a green eel of silence. Something tells me
this was hurried. Her running behind a gaggle
of school girls she hasn’t learnt the names of yet-
always the slow one-when she was beckoned.
A land in its plea has spilled its mood of calamity
over her face, the way fear of a people seeps
into the clime of their soil, hardening, giving back
nothing. Her face is a conversation with whomever
is in charge of us, and she threatens Him with two
black pearls billowing in the center of her green eyes.
But there is a way the right side of her face curves
a little, more gently than her left. The way the ridge
on her upper lip is sewn taut like a scar hiding
in plain sight. What lasts is this asymmetry
you begin with. This intimation of a startling,
at having been found at last. On her forehead
the furrows of flight gathering rest.


Rohan Chettri
, is a Nepalese-Indian poet. He won in 2015 the prestigious India’s Emerging Poets Prize. He has received fellowships and awards from Sangam House, RL POETRY AWARD 2013 and Toto Arts. His first collection, Slow Startle, has just been published. A former editor at Hatchette India, he is currently a University Fellow at the Graduate Writing Program in Syracuse University. This poem was first published in his collection of poems.

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