Poem-a-Day - "Walnuts in Nangarhar" by Zohra Saed

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January 10, 2022 

Walnuts in Nangarhar

Zohra Saed

That time
in Aagam when father, a child then, picked
fresh walnuts with the mountain girls;
they showed him the fleshy green
skin over shell & nut he rubbed
on his lips & cheeks, giggling.

The girls circled around him, clapped
in unison & teased. In a hand mirror,
he saw himself stained pink,
a delicious trick that kept
its color a full week—

That time
so long ago, in the
season of walnuts.

Copyright © 2022 by Zohra Saed. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 10, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“My father, at the age of five, went to Aagam on vacation. He grew up in Jalalabad. Walnuts and pine nuts grow in abundance in Afghanistan. He told me this memory to share how young girls learned to take the flesh of the walnut fruit to make a lipstick stain. I think of those trees on the mountains. I think of those young girls who were my father’s age then, grandmothers now.”
Zohra Saed

Zohra Saed is co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press, 2010). A Distinguished Lecturer in the Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York, she lives on Lenape land.

One Story, Thirty Stories
(University of Arkansas Press, 2010)

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Thanks to Joseph O. Legaspi, author of Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about Legaspi’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year.
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