White Candles

White Candles

for Gastina and other Afghani girls
and women, victims of sexual and gender

Thin drifts of silver smoke whisper
our names, calling us to a small
gathering outside of my home. The
women drift-walk, floating ghostly,
like us. Instead of blue
and black abayas, the others
and I are white robed. Unearthly
pale, our faces transparent in
flickering flames.

My mother is there, under Auntie’s
strength, her shoulders without bones.
I hover so close to her I know the exact
moment she feels me, her head jerking
suddenly. She is my sweet one, fainting
when word came. My father’s cousins
caught me before I reached the well,
in a fresh, unsuspecting morning, and
pruned my bloom. A mouth, my neck
gaped wide.
What was I, a seventh-grader, to do,
moving between two men, wife to

Most of the others have been
ethereal for a while. This candle
burns for her, the angelic one who
sacrificed herself, became a flame
arrayed in white, not to marry
a man with killer eyes and hard
words. The other lost her nose,
ears, and life, after being accused
of talking to a neighborhood boy,
her family dishonored. White
wax melts “dulcet,” a word
I learned before my transition. It
epitomizes this one, a
woman-girl-wife, axed
by her husband
for bearing his girl baby.
The candles on that plate
glow for them.

Before the scene of our
mothers and kin women becomes
a dream, we leap our flames
in a flare of lightening-white
sparks. Benedictions, our songs
hang on the soft breath
of night.

(c) Claudia Moss 4/7/2015


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