Biswajit Basu


The Afghan Girl


The red shawl frames her countenance soiled,
A beautiful young girl of Pashtun descent,
Her brows gently arched,
Guides you to the twin ovals below,
Into the timeless infinity of her eyes,
A mysterious haunting beauty,
That reflect anger, hurt, sorrow,
And with hardship and fear radiating
With a singular feral ferocity,
Intermixed with a million other emotions,
Horror obliterating innocence,
Captured in an image,
Poised on the razor edge of time.

Those piercing eyes,
So nebulous and yet so firm
Convey nobility of a savage mould,
Of a ferocious determination.
Radiating from her pupil’s very core,
From the deep mystery of the sheer black,
Fringed with a starburst of grey-green
Like an angry stormy ocean.
Streaked with blue of noble character
Tinged with the yellow of cringing fear,
Of the thunderstorm of the flying dragons,
That rained death from the nightly sky.

What gory tales can these eyes tell,
As they glare out a defensive challenge,
Burning with savage ferocity,
Hiding an inner softness,
Coming back to you again and again,
With the regularity of a metronome,
Reminding of the hell of war
From the eyes of a child who,
Knows terror far beyond her tender years,
Has lived through the stark reality
Of poverty, hardship and strife,
In just a dozen years since her birth
That transcends everything that you and I,
In an entire lifetime will ever see.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Edited: Friday, October 11, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

This poem is inspired by the iconic image of magnum photographer Steve McCurry of an Afghan Girl. This picture was published in 1984 in National Geographic magazine. Remarkable were the eyes of this young girl that radiated defiance, fear and a ferocious determination all in one glance. A portrait has probably never been so beautiful rendered with such expression after Leonardo's Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile.........

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