He rises before you from over the ridge—
His rolled pakul shades his black almond eyes
a tangle of beard sparse as the brush between these rocks
He carries Alexander and Genghis Khan in his DNA
tangled with generations of grandfathers taught
by every passing army how to deal with invaders
He carries a Kalashnikov like you held a Camel
those days when you rolled your own: without thinking
He is January wind biting through the Hindu Kush
He carries the Koran in his memory, letter by letter
Nothing covers his fingers against the ice
He knows how to tangle with invaders like you—
He will give you just enough time to call on your god.
Claire Zoghb’s first collection, Small House Breathing, won the 2008 Quercus Review Poetry Series Annual Book Award. A chapbook, Dispatches from Everest, is forthcoming from Fomite Press. Her work appears in numerous journals and anthologies. Twice a Pushcart nominee, Claire was the winner of the 2008 Dogwood annual poetry competition and one of the ten finalists in the 6th Annual Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival (2014). She works as Graphics Director at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre.