Alicia Viguer-Espert – She Lifts Her Burka

Alicia EspertLE P&W March 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing March 2023

She Lifts Her Burka, poems by Alicia Viguer-Espert.

She Lifts Her Burka

I wonder how tough this young Kabul woman has it. This woman who shows me
her lovely fifteen years old face, polished nails bright red, and the green eyes of a
1985 National Geographic cover. A youth already betrothed to a man three times
her age, a friend of her father’s, luckily with only one wife, she whispers. Leaning
on the noise of a building’s façade to hide her dismay, or protect herself from
viewers, she pushes her chaperone’s hands as they try to pull the burka back. At
home family prepares Halwa and praises God for the engagement. Nervous, asks
about life in Europe, if I am allowed to dance until sunrise, how often women die
in childbirth, whether I am married, and if my husband beats me. With the last
question her smile disappears. I survey the snowy ridges circling us like rapacious
birds starving for prey in that frigid December morning. He’s a good man, maybe
he’ll let me go back to school, she says frowning.

I think about her often, her beauty, youth, pray fate will treat her with enough
benevolence to raise healthy, educated children. She wouldn’t have had a chance,
untrained as she was, but her daughters did before the Taliban. Now icy clouds of
misery engulf the city, women sit around clanky kerosene stoves without kerosene,
debate the dangers of defying the jailers to have a life of their own, or else.

a bright light
fades fast
under the burka

The Phone Call

The music, a crying guitar
much like an infected violin
chews leaves blown by winter,
hearts pounded by absences
never expected to palpitate
clean like a new whistle still
in its wrapping at the store

The phone rings to that song
we used to dance to by the sea.
The ghost of your voice from abroad
shakes me out of my incantations,
resurrects embers from long dead ashes.
I know the clear skin of yesteryears,
strong thighs, and certain softness
surrounding those forest green eyes
form residues of memories now
stiff with coldness and distance.

I search for a photograph as we speak
to match the face to the vulnerable voice
of a Peter Pan who never grew to his potential.
You’re famous now, and a different voice
implores forgiveness through air waves
since cables too are gone, and nothing
ties us together anymore.


If the moon follows you tonight
extract from your pocket the gift
you’ve been holding for years
buried in the orange lined drawer.
The cypress’ shadow, sharp and dark,
never stops asking questions to hawks
usually flying in pairs which cannot
be seen now because clouds wrapped
around bougainvillea obscure the sky.
It’s always this way, a little beauty
distract us from seeing the One beauty.
Check your pockets, see if it’s still
there between torn lining and pennies
that remember your joyful cries at age 2,
“luna, luna,” as she claimed you as her
own luminous arms stretched sweeping
you from outside the wide-open window.
Time, like a tricycle rolls down the hill
of life, faster as the slope intensifies,
moss adheres to the wall of your brain
which apparently has shrunk exactly
like a rayon dress you washed ignoring
the label’s warning, dry cleaning only.
The cypress’ queries have not been answered,
priorities have changed favoring the peculiar
silence of a winter home, curtains half-drawn.
It’s the taste of the moon what you crave
the milky essence filling you up with hope
that your life hasn’t been in vain, that residues
of star dust you donated will foster constellations,
that the attraction of love will triumph over the
repulsion of hate, that the peace you earned
has been scattered, and generations will
enjoy it as they gaze at the moon,
your mother.

© Alicia Viguer-Espert

Alicia Viguer-Espert, born and raised in the Mediterranean city of Valencia, Spain, lives in Los Angeles. She learned English as an adult, began writing in English in 2017 and that same year won The San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Book Contest. She has been a featured poet at numerous venues within the greater LA. Her work has been published in Colorado Boulevard, Lummox Anthologies, Altadena Poetry Review, ZZyZx Intersections, Panoplyzine, Rhyvers, River Paw Press, Agape Review, Soul-Lit, Dryland, Amethyst Review,, Solum Journal, and Spectrum Publications, among others. Her chapbooks To Hold a Hummingbird,  Out of the Blue Womb of the Sea and 4 in 1, focus on nature, identity, language, home, and soul. In addition to national and international publications, she is included in “Top 39 L.A. Poets of 2017,” one of “Ten Poets to Watch on 2018,” by Spectrum. Alicia is a three times Pushcart nominee.

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