The Dari teacher is late
We call it time to have some fun
We close the class door, taahp
We take the chalk from the desk and start hitting each other

We make plenty of noise and laughter
Run all around the class
Until the door opens and the teacher enters

She finds Aseia holding Farwa’s hands while drawing on her back with chalk
She finds Nelofar running after Farahnaz, holding chalk
She finds me standing on the table hitting Hailai with chalk

She takes out a long iron ruler that smells like a cold wind
She hits us all twice on our palms
She gives a long speech on proper Afghan Muslim ladies
She ends the speech, declaring us un-Islamic and un-Afghan

The class time is over
The teacher leaves
looking at us silently

The smell of chalk is all in the air
It is the cold smell of calcite
The chalk powder on our fingers feels dry

We all gather close to the teacher’s desk
We look at our palms, they are red and itchy
We admit it hurts but the fun is worth it

We laugh out loud
We feel free like fishes swimming deep in the ocean
We feel free like birds flying high in the sky

By Meena


4 responses to “Chalk

  1. Meena

    I like the ideas contained in your poem. Indeed in little pleasures we find moments of great joy and freedom!


  2. Dearest Meena:

    What I would like to do is tell you which lines/words/phrases really stand out as
    marvelous, as hitting the poetic voice perfectally. They are: “smells like a cold wind,”
    “smells of calcite” (because you are being concrete here), and most of all I like “free like fishes.” These are the unpredictable lines, the poetry. I also like the mix of lyrical voice and prose. Good going! Dr. Glo

  3. I love this small rebellion and the happiness in what you’ve done — even after you’ve endured your punishment. Strong images too — the ruler that smells like a cold wind, the smell of calcite and the dryness on your fingers. A wonderful poem!

  4. I am a teacher in the States and my students seem to have more freedom then your school system. Since they can speak openly about their opinions and yes even criticize the government, they may not find chalk fighting as an outlet to express freedom, but the more restrictive the environment the greater the need to find playful but innocent ways to have fun. I will let them read your poem and maybe when I leave the room they will find the dry eraser and write all over the board- we do not have chalk. Keep playing but don’t cross the line where you might lose some privileges. Your poem was honest and from the heart of a lively student. Libby

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