Istalif, Afghanistan, 2004

By Brandy Bauer

March 7, 2022

Istalif, Afghanistan, 2004

We picnic by firelight in the bombed-out carapace of a hotel, where a guard in tattered shawls sips tea, cradling his gun. Beyond the balcony, mud homes jut out from the snowy hills. Pale trees offer up off-season blooms, orange as the two stray cats whose mews echo along the tangle of pipe and railing. Looters have raided the chandeliers.

This is what we discuss: the turquoise majesty of a nearby mosque, drought, whether a Talib bomb or American rocket caused this damage.

The bonfire burns on.


Brandy Bauer mostly writes about Medicare and financial security in her day job at a non-profit. She has had recent non-fiction and poetry published in Embodied Effigies, Oregon Literary Review, and The Ghazal Page. Brandy has an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato and resides just outside of Washington, DC.


Picture by Takenbytablo courtesy of Pexels

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