2,500 new brides burn annually in Uzbekistan.

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on a dry, windy afternoon
far away in Uzbekistan
the family council gathers round
to seal the fate
of a rebellious hymen

sometimes they bleed
sometimes they don't

the father sighs and uncertainty
hopeless compassion for his still
spunky daughter, newly rejected bride
who flares with protestations
of innocence
creases his weather-beaten face

hymens are unpredictable

it's a hot, windy afternoon
somewhere in Uzbekistan
pale smoke from the father's long pipe
encircles his brothers, cross legged
they sit in the centre of the room
wisely nod
their straight-backed wives
on a bench by the whitewashed wall
mutely smoulder against the howls
of the rising wind

Anna Mioduchowska

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