My Mother Pictured Amongst Tobacco Leaves

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Your picture in the greenness of the tobacco leaves

reflecting the light of the Orient

you bend among the endless lines

of the staring tobacco plants

like doubt after conviction

you pick up the leaves

lay them in the Charoga[1]

hanging at your neck

and carry them to the Ber Heywan[2]


Piles of sad leaves

Piles of silence

hidden under the Nur[3] of the Orient


Your wrinkled hands

talk to me

tell the story of a stolen childhood

the loneliness of women in my homeland


I look at your fingers

you place the leaves one by one on the tobacco shish

threading them like long beads into a necklace

then you kneel before the heap of tobacco necklaces

place them on your back,

climb the hill to reach the Chardagh[4]

and hang them in precise lines

to dry


Infinite lines of tobacco necklaces

Infinite scars on your heart


I can feel your body drying up

like the tobacco plant in the midsummer heat

and your life

your life similar to the tobacco leaves

has been picked and burnt away

like a cigarette

between a man’s fingers



© Nazand Begikhani


[1] . Charoga is a sling put around the neck to put tobacco leaves in.

[2] . Ber Heywan is a courtyard.

[3] . Nur is light, in religious term it is divine light.

[4] . Chardagh is the place where tobacco is hung in lines to dry.