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The War Reporter Paul Watson and Ghosts of the Hindu Kush.

 Every stone in the Khaibar's been baptized in blood. Said the
Brit famously. Soldiers in our watchtowers hear spirits cursing in
Russian behind them. Pakistani smugglers whispering tales of orbs like
the wraiths of raped girls. With albino-pink eyes and Caucasoid skin.
Blood-slaked tongues. I demurred to wear the burqa and so had to feign
sleep in the backseat. Jubilant Pashtuns mimed, Roll down your window!
At a mudbrick compound like a Saturday matinee of Gunga Din
 , a fistful of twenties slipped our chains. A highway of depressions
sewn with shrapnel. Osama bin Laden somewhere nearby. Found my guide, my
teacher in a wooden chair in an empty room in Kabul. Watching the
windowsill weep icicles. A woolen shawl securing his buttonless duffle
coat. Ink-black beard two hands long. No friend of the Taliban, he
assured me. So I asked, Will you lead me north? He smiled. Past midnight
unscrewing the hissing radiator cap. Pissing into a Pepsi can. Piddling,
praying for far more substantial streams. The rumor of deliquesced
glaciers out there beyond a moonless minefield. My Maglite a torch-led
procession of monks stepping lightly in the catacombs. Even Macedon
skulls underfoot. When my guide, my teacher shouts, Stop!--the
cliff's edge, the river giggling like children scattering. Every
innkeeper was asleep, so the watchman with his lamp banged on metal
doors for us. When we woke in the bedchamber of our car, bullhorns
girding minarets, muezzins droning Allahu Akbar! shaking mulberries out
of the dawn, the dead were sleeping while the snow pigeons bounced. My
guide, my teacher ignores my calls and emails now. I hope he's
still no friend of the Taliban but this war has gone on so long I
suspect he's no longer a friend of mine. 
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Author:O'Brien, Dan (American playwright)
Publication:Southwest Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2013
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