Afghanistan, 2003

[audio link]

from The Kite Runner

In a dusty village
a man sits in a café smoking
his pipe and drinking tea
from a broken cup.

In his pocket, brass knuckles
he’ll use tonight if the boy
he bought with three bags
of rice tries to resist.

Outside an orphanage
on a narrow dirt alley
another man watches over
children playing with sticks

and a wad of cloth, and says,
What would you have me do?
The rice will keep the children
alive a few more days.

—Nancy Scott, Lawrenceville, NJ