Susannah W. Simpson is the author of four collections of verse, It Could Be You, Alchemy, Breaking the Tenth Commandment and Songs from the Hindu Kush. Her poem "Alaskan Spring" won Honorable Mention in the National WordArt Competition. She has had poems published or forthcoming in 13th Moon, The Wisconsin Review, WatchWord, Fox Cry Review, Descant, Carquinez Poetry Review, Eureka Literary Magazine, Nimrod, Oregon East, Pennsylvania English, Poet Lore, Phantasmagoria, Salamander and Xavier Review.
In the Green Door Bazaar
Kabul, Afghanistan, 1964
The smell of charcoal stoves, cooked lamb kabob,
and the smoke of nan slapped, baking
in mud ovens, rose over our heads,
mingling with yards of silk turbans, high
above the street, washed, and hung in grand
loops, all manner of silvery gray and blue
against the Kabul sky. Carcass of skinned goat,
fly-studded was strung up next to pyramids
of pomegranates, and blood oranges.
Embedded between stacks of lush carpets,
the knife sharpener made sparks—blade
to wheel, and the tinker drilled staples
through dainty bone china, making broken
tea cups usable. Now you, Kabul, are shattered
walls, green doors hanging. Who will eat
your blood fruit or sweep up the shards?
Who Deserves Mercy More?
Who deserves to have mercy
more than I do?
Haven’t I the full measure
of awfulness, human
mistakes, loss, lust?
If I could hold mercy
in my heart, keep my
heart merciful for all
that has pierced it
and bloodied it, all
that squashes and frightens
me, if I could hold
in my hand, the bird
of me, coax the smallest
of me from beneath
beach shells, who more
than I, needs this kindness?
Who more than I,
needs to be bathed
one limb at a time,
to have the sweat and snot
and stink washed away,
soothed, kissed away,
then tucked and cradled,
into a downy sleep?