I Knew You

by Kristina Woodhill

June, 1985
As I looked at
Your National Geographic
Yellow-framed face,
Your steady gaze
Stared past me,
Glancing off my heart
That felt again
Its heavy burden of
Love lost.

And I knew you

You are Afghan -
Tribal bound and creed true,
A giving hand
To strangers
At your door;
You are woman
Stronger than I
Could ever be,
Living in a land
Where men rule.

As I thumb-fumbled
Through geographic pages
To seek your roots
I marveled at
Your hold on me,
The child of my woman’s mind
Reaching out again
To a past life
And land I loved.

Your land’s beauty
Touched me so
When I was young
That my heart,
Chose a man to wed
With olive skin, jet black hair,
A fine strong nose and
Dark eyes that burned
Into my soul.

Sharbat Gula,
I walked your land
Before your birth,
This 60’s child
Half a world
From Love-in’s
Beads and tambourines,
In love instead
With Quala Bost,
Dry desert sands,
And Kabul’s peaks.

Pluck out my
Light blue eyes
That yours might
See through me
That time of
Afghan peace;
My memories would
Ease your
Haunted stare
If they could.


Posted on 12/26/2005
Copyright © 2020 Kristina Woodhill

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Mara Meade on 12/26/05 at 11:25 PM

Kristina... the honour you give "our" Sharbat Gula is as beautiful as she is. Those blue eyes, a throwback to Alexander the Great, will ever haunt this generation... should indeed, we open our own eyes to see.

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 12/27/05 at 06:07 AM

Kristina, every time I read you, I am taken... taken to where you are, taken through your eyes into places and people who I want to know deeply. Your way with words has me forget that I'm even reading. shalom!

Posted by Ronald A Pavellas on 01/05/06 at 09:22 AM

Kristina, I visited Afghanistan as a volunteer hospital consultant the middle of last year for 30 days. I have many pictures and a journal which I will be happy to share with you.

Posted by Olivia Weinkein on 02/20/06 at 08:19 PM


Posted by David R Spellman on 09/28/06 at 09:19 AM

Hauntingly beautiful in ways, so heartfelt in all. You speak so lovingly and caringly for a land and people that have known so much misery, especially since the time you were there in your youth. A stirring piece very worthy of POTD. Congrats!

Posted by Mara Meade on 09/28/06 at 02:39 PM

HOW WONDERFUL to see this as POTD! And I so understand where, in your soul, this came from. That makes it even more beautiful. Oh, if only we could give it back, whole.

Posted by Gregory O'Neill on 09/28/06 at 06:27 PM

Hi Kristina. Great potd selection, so congrats! I still have this issue of NG, I think I'll locate it and put your poem inside. Thanks.

Posted by Charlie Morgan on 09/28/06 at 09:27 PM

...kristina, congrats on POTD, your poem is well chosen, such a voice you have when drawing someone into your world...heavy on care, and caring...your depth of appreciation of the "other" is wonderous...peace, chaz

Posted by Michelle Angelini on 09/29/06 at 02:58 AM

Incredibly and intensely sensitive and emotional. WOW! CONGRATULATIONS on POTD!

Posted by Kathleen Wilson on 12/29/06 at 07:29 PM

I love the use of "your steady gaze glancing off my heart" in the first stanza. Since the gaze is so memorable --to use "glanced" in its other meaning--of hitting at an angle-- is brilliant--and for you--it has a rich resonance! Really a wonderfully constructive use of words! In stanza two-- such a sence of both giving, and strength. In the third stanza the "thumb" is gentle--yet eager, as thumbing through something is, but "your hold" mirrors the hand image in a psychological way. Again a fine word use, coupled with strong emotion. The fourth stanza picks up that tactile imagery with "touched me" and goes beyond--the very personal pointing to the man you chose (ringing of of the earlier "where men rule" but so different), and also "glancing off" your "heart subconsciously"... The detail of place names in the fifth stanza give a strong sense of place and knowledge, and the last stanza is brilliant and as strong an ending as you have a beginning, the startling "pluck our my eyes" so effective and the "light" of your eyes somehow makes it seem possible-- and the "see through me" is fantastic, and reminds me that this poem is generated by that "look", that "stare", and you wisely carry that imagery through, beginning to end. You have really have poetically embraced this heartful experiennce that caught your imagination and experience in childhood--a different kind of "60's child" (as you demonstrate well here)-- in love with that far away land, whose heart you would ease now.

Posted by Ymelda Ramirez on 01/26/07 at 10:56 AM

This is very beautiful! I can actually picture that cover.

Posted by Rhonda Maneki on 02/17/07 at 01:03 AM

So, beautifully vivid. Amazing

Posted by Melissa Arel on 08/09/07 at 03:03 AM

so touching.

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 02/08/09 at 03:51 AM

I found this again while looking in the Library of Ronald A Pavellas.
Rereading this has softened tonight's winter, Kristina. Tears spring from understanding the depth of what you mean. Much love, my friend.


Posted by Joan Serratelli on 03/19/09 at 10:45 AM

Beautiful- that says it all! you are Strong woman! It shows in every poem I;ve read of yours- interesting read and fantastic write!

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