Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear

A poem by Mahnaz Rezaie

Photo by the author

Between hope and fear
There is a narrow bridge
Where every Afghan lives
Hanging, unsure, breathing in dust
Cruel bullets flying for decades
Marking walls, faces and hearts
Rockets screech down
Cutting through air, butchering limbs

Years of war carved Afghan land
Into a ruined farm
The politicians like inept scarecrows
Whirl this way and that
With every wind and whim
Neither protecting crops
Nor scaring the crows

The horizon carries uncertainty
The streets still dirty
The widow crawls in the mud
Looking for a bit of Naan
The orphan yearns for parents
The little girl cries for a bicycle
The Afghan man looks for a roof
A job, and a street free of threat

Between injustice and fear
There is a sharp thread of hate
Spinning around the Afghan woman
Trapping her in violence
Forcing her to set herself on fire
While flames eat through her flesh
She shouts to forget
The pain is unbearable
She says goodbye to love
And the abusive husband

Between unemployment and fear
Failure will breed
Despair becomes weed and smoke
Shoving itself into the Afghan throat
Needles become friends
Clinging to veins for comfort
Guns become toys
Playing above children’s heads

Among all this sadness
Hope and faith still remain
The hope that politicians can change
Becoming responsible farmers
That the land heals
And cracked bodies and souls are restored
That orphans and widows smile
The little girl rides a colorful bicycle
The mud turns into green grass
And men respect women
In action and in law

Between hope and fear
Love can exist
Mercy can be taught
Safety can be wished
The hope remains
That the unstable bridge falls away
And Afghanistan lives
Between love and peace

About the author: Mahnaz Rezaie is a freelance visual producer and writer located in Haymarket, VA. Her short film, Wearing Scarf, was featured on MUSLIMA online exhibition and 2014 Women in the World Summit. She graduated with a master’s degree in New Media Photojournalism from Corcoran School of Art and Design of GWU in 2016. After graduation, she interned with the Washington Post for four months. In addition, she has worked as a Dari Executive Mentor for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project and as a digital curator for the OF NOTE online magazine, selecting artists and curating photographs for the Burqa issue of this magazine. Mahnaz currently also works on her novel and independent visual projects. You can check out her work at

Writing by Afghan writers. Editor/Publisher: Nancy Antle; Editor: Pamela Hart

Writing by Afghan writers. Editor/Publisher: Nancy Antle; Editor: Pamela Hart