All things counter, original, spare and strange in Khujand, Tajikistan

Why This in Particular?

Here most songs have a purpose.

The song for the trimming of hedges you’ve already heard,

And the one for the pulling of lawn-mower cords.

You may have heard this song sung over flat bicycle tires;

It is also for cleaning the dishes.

That one on the lips of the man with the battered hat

Comes to those nursing a family grudge,

But don’t hold that against him.

This song is only for times when the cigarette smoke

Curls itself into a question mark

Over the head of the woman you love

—or might have loved—for her sorrow only.

Of course each must instantly cease

When the occasion passes

And some are never sung twice by anyone.

But then there are songs that come to the tongue

Unbidden and purposeless.

Silent ships from foreign ports of call,

Wings that beat in the dark

And are gone before the match flares.

These songs, say the ancients,

Who sit in their circles of stone

Each with one leg propped behind their heads,

Are the greatest of all.

Significant as the ways women have

With the bodies of men.

Beautiful and senseless and vanishing.


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