TRANSLATED FROM THE FARSI BY MAURA DOOLEY AND ELHUM SHAKERIFAR
I still dream
of my red bicycle
on the green shores of summer,
my unruly hair casting shadows on the water,
my school work peppered with grape pips.
Pulling away, growing up, was hard
in that weather of thorns and stones,
I let the bright shining marbles slip from my fingers, one by one.
No-one to play with, I sat by the side of the road,
my bicycle, rusty in the shed,
that green shore, a picture on the wall.
WITH A RED FLOWER
Wearing a poppy
leave behind those black clothes,
the flags of mourning,
the tired, disconsolate streets.
This is the only way forward.
Wearing your red flower
climb from between these handwritten lines,
turn from the empty space of this paper
and step into my memories.
Come! Meet me
in that shabby old house,
where now the pipes are rusty,
the shutters lost in ivy and long grass,
where cobwebs and whispers have
settled over everything,
where, after all these years,
sorrow is the only dustsheet.
Come back to me, hide your fears,
wearing your red flower, come back,
but take care that no one sees
you show me the path you took to Heaven.
NEGATIVE OF A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH
I am younger in this photograph,
younger than anything I’ve ever written,
and I am the third missing person.
Inside me, undercover, my words were taking shape.
Like a moth waking from its cocoon into summer,
peering out from between my fingers,
from my hiding place, as a poet, I stepped out.
Keeping my heart well-hidden,
holding myself back a little
I sat exposed.
In the darkness I searched for that merciless tree
and maybe the trace of a green rope.
For you must remember Ghazaleh?
I am younger in this photograph,
younger than my own shadow.
Anything that I could not write
I disguised, hiding myself in my daughter,
losing myself in my mother.
We sought relief in the first sign of spring rain
but my heart will always ache with the loss of these women.
For you must remember Nazanin?
Those days were crazier than any war,
where words were whispered fearfully
under an old army blanket.
Only poetry could hold us close,
when it wasn’t lost for words itself.
Between the shape-shifting letters
peeped a child’s face,
the writing all disjointed and hard to decipher.
Between winter and summer
the overcast skies pushed us apart.
Between the road that twisted around my neck
and the words that took fire in your mouth,
I don’t think that you remember me?
With a pair of scissors,
I trim away all shadows from the image
clothing us afresh for Spring.
Your lines were another new beginning,
and poetry the only fresh clothes that I knew,
a love that was more beautiful than ever.
We are strangely young in this picture,
our heads resting against one another,
intimate, affectionate – there I am.
In this stained old black and white negative
with our enormous, fixed smiles,
we faced the world, standing tall.
THAT WHICH ONE I WAS
All the different men and women I have been,
the sleep that has seen my dreams
your dreams that I have lived out,
every sadness that stays with me so that I weep
songs, hidden melodies, zephyrs
that are the music of my life,
every woman I have ever been
blown from place to place by the wind,
your eyes, so many faces,
your face, my eyes,
every shape that I have ever taken
stones, birds, trees,
every tree, bird, stone that I have ever been,
every ocean that has swilled through you,
every different road that I have walked, my footsteps,
the footsteps of others and each of your roads too,
all the songs that I have sung
through your mouth
into the face of every woman, every man that I have been.
Also, read The Last Sun and Other Poems by Anamika Anu, translated from the Hindi by Dipanwita Bhattacharyya and published in The Antonym: