Mary Smith - Author, Poet and Journalist


Living With War

(Afghanistan 1990)

Either side of the valley
opposing groups of freedom fighters
command two mountain tops.
During daylight hours,
they rest behind rocky barricades,
plan night assaults,
their presence ignored in the village below.

Men follow the land’s rhythms,
plough, plant or harvest wheat;
women milk goats, weave carpets
share gossip and laughter. 
School boys wonder what use
spelling to a mujahid1, while girls
learn to sew, keep house,
sing songs at weddings.

At evening’s swift darkening,
families gather, bread baked,
stories told, doors closed,
one by one lamps doused.
Then, tracer bullets arc
across night sky.
Children fall asleep
to kalashnikovs’ lullaby.

1 Mujahid – a freedom fighter
‘Living with War’ is in the anthology Outside of a Dog (Chroma, 2006) a collection of work by Creative Writing MLitt students at Glasgow University.


Mary Smith

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