[from my first collection of poetry called, Forty Names, published by Carcanet Press in July 2021]
During the wars,
my mother made our clothes
and our toys.
For her three daughters,
she made dresses and once,
she made us each a doll.
Their figures were made with sticks
gathered from our neighbor’s garden.
She rolled white cotton fabric
around the stick frames
to create a skin for each doll.
Then she fattened the skin
with cotton extracted from an old pillow.
With black and red yarns bought from
uncle Farid’s store, my mother created faces.
A unique face for each doll.
Large black eyes, thick eyelashes and eyebrows,
Long black hair, a smudge of black for each nose.
And lips in red.
Our dolls came alive,
with each stitch of my mother’s sewing needle.
We dyed their cheeks with red rose-petals,
and fashioned skirts from bits of fabric,
from my mother’s sewing basket.
And finally, we named our dolls.
Mine with a skirt of royal green was the oldest and tallest,
And I called her Duur. Pearl.
Shabnam chose a skirt of bright yellow
and called her doll, Pari. Angel.
And our youngest sister, Gohar, chose deep blue fabric,
and named her doll, Raang. Color.
They lived longer than our childhoods.