From Azem Galica to Shote Galica

From Azem Galica to Shota Galica is a poem written by Fortesa Latifi

In my book No Matter the Time I turn the lens away from my own life and towards history. I focus the lens on the greatest love stories the world has ever known. No Matter the Time is a collection of love letters between historical couples. In each of them, I find fragments of love I’ve known. I hope you do, too.

When writing this book, I knew I wanted to include an Albanian couple and, like most Albanian children, I grew up hearing the legend of Shote Galica. What I didn’t know was that there was an incredible love story behind the legend.

The best kind of love strengthens us, tests our boundaries, and helps us become the people we always dreamed of being. This is how I think of Shote & Azem Galica. I feel lucky to be able to include them in this collection. I hope you enjoy.

I didn’t want the fight. I didn’t want the war
or the blood rusting in a puddle on the floor.
I don’t want the shovels or the dirt thrown
over my shoulder in the name of defeat
but when you love something enough,
you put on the uniform. You clean your gun.
That’s what the politicians don’t understand-
even war is about love. Even love is about country.
We are all fighting for the smallest of moments-
to go home and drink strong tea in our own kitchens;
to kiss our children’s face just as they are rising from sleep;
to eat with our hands with three generations of family unfolded
in the same room. In the middle of a summer afternoon,
these dreams are lost, the flame of a candle blown out
by death’s breath. Darling, who but you could have faced death
with such grace? Who but you could have faced war
with such resolve? So I’m gone now.
This is the human price of war.
We always knew this, but now it is close.
This time, you are kneeling over my grave.
There is no miracle here. Every life on earth
ends in this spot. The miraculous part is you
putting on your uniform and cleaning your gun.
The miraculous part is you shouldering grief
and pulling it through the mountains with you.
The miraculous part is your muscles stretching
and growing underneath it. The miraculous part
Is how you never stopped fighting, even for a second.

You can buy Fortesa Latifi's newest book No Matter the Time here or here.

Visit Fortesa Latifi's Tumblr for exclusive new poems and updates at

And in case you missed it, #FEMRAT's interview with the poet herself...