A Plane the Size of Afghanistan

August 31, 2021
A woman veiled from head to toe, holding a child, as she looks at a stone wall with a flag flying above
Photo by Basetrack 18 / Flickr

The trees outside my balcony,

Remind me of the trees of Afghanistan

They are big green clouds that land on the ground to lift our spirits
and take them for a journey of joy.

Remember how children clamor to climb trees?
Like passengers climb into planes and look from childhood-sized windows?

The trees on the brown airports of dirt laugh with each other

They wrap branches like we wrap arms

Look look

the problem at the Kabul airport is bigger than you say

Each person leaving
Is carrying all of Afghanistan with them

Who would leave a drop of what they love behind?

People stash countries too for the winters of diaspora

So send a plane the size of Afghanistan

Or send the rest of the countries of the planet
to wrap this wounded place with warmth and healing

Wrap them like a pastel-colored-yarn afghan.

Photo by Matt Peyton

Ibtisam Barakat is a Palestinian-American poet, artist, and the author of award-winning books in English and Arabic, including Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood (FSG) and Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine (FSG/Macmillan). Her most recent book, The Lilac Girl, won the 2020 Sheikh Zayed Book Award.