Escape Journey, 1988

Escape Journey, 1988

They force you to crawl, these mountains,
even if you are only 14.
Who made their first journey over them?
Whose feet created this track?

The exhausted mules carry us
along with the smuggled goods.
Sitting on their backs, climbing mountains
feels much safer than going down.
The steepness makes me lean backwards,
my back nearly touching the mule's,
then holding on becomes impossible
and I dismount.
It is easier, safer to walk sideways.

And from high up, I can see the white valley.
"A valley of plaster." I tell my sister.
The mule-owner says: "It is snow."
But I cannot imagine being rescued from this rough mountain
only to walk over the snow, covering the river.
I cannot imagine listening to the rushing water
pushing by holes where the river exposes itself.

"You are too young to complain,"
the mule-owner says,
and I look at my father, his little body,
and listen to his difficult breathing.
But then again, he's been here before.

from Life for Us (Bloodaxe, 2004), © Choman Hardi 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1There Was

2My Mother's Kitchen

3At The Border

4Adila's Apple

5Pyjamas 1983

6My Father's Books

7Escape Journey 1988


9The Penelopes of My Homeland

10Life for Us

11Living in Saqiz

12The Weekly Chicken



15Exodus 1991

16The Songs

17Summer Roof

18Before You Leave

19Two Pages

20His Boots

21The Haunting

22Mixed Marriage


24As Clouds Slide Across the Sky

25My Children

26To Kurdistan

27The Greening Mountains

28Yerek Beradi Teparri