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In The Widows' Bakery

A Poem by:

Eithne Cavanagh

Colourful Bar


Copyright shall at all times remain vested in the Author. No part of the work shall be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the Author's express written consent.

The buildings I designed penetrate the sky.

The blue I used to love now suffocates me.


Throwing off my cloth prison,

I move again with natural litheness

in the bakery where I knead and pat the dough.


The aroma of flat loaves cooling

spells a modicum of freedom, an unmeshed view.


Here, in the widows' bakery, the oven heat

rises with our mirth, a few hours friendship.


Sometimes at night I watch the crescent moon.

I cannot paint my nails, play music,

wear high heels.


I who created skyscrapers, hotels,

must now move silent, invisible,

(better were I illiterate).


Blinded by cloth, her tormentors a blur,

my friend was beaten for a ripple of laughter.


My small son cannot fly his kite to see

its multicoloured tails stream heavenward.


I smuggle my daughters to a secret school,

still safe       ...      today

What tools will they use to architect their lives?


My buildings will endure beyond oppression,

vibrant with music, kites and moondust,


nor crumble like the rations

I bring home beneath my burka.


Eithne Cavanagh
Copyright © 2002

A few notes by the poet about the poem "In The Widows' Bakery" :

"After 11th September we all became painfully aware of the conditions of women under the Taliban. Up to that time I have to confess that my knowledge was sketchy and vague. I read as much as I could and watched many TV programmes about the situation and became more horrified with each new (to me) revelation. My admiration for the spirit and strength of those women grew. How they could maintain their sanity, but they do.

Also I love the particular shade of blue of some of the burkas and hate to think of it as an imprisoning colour, because I see it as the sky, sea, flowers and freedom.

I read about a bakery set up in Kabul to enable widows whom otherwise had no means of livelihood. The article described how the women could laugh and sing and remove the burkas for that few hours. This is a freedom that I have every day, and take for granted. I hope this poem is a very small tribute to these women."

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Copyright © 2002 K. Kianush, Art Arena