A SIMPLE REQUEST
Lord, I know the duty of a hostess,
but please let it be that this year
either rain clouds visit me
or my loneliness.
Why should I be the first to phone?
He knows too:
last night came the first monsoon.
TO A FRIEND
Listen, girl, these moments are clouds:
you let them pass and they’re gone.
Soak up their moist touch. Get
Don’t waste a single drop.
Listen, downpours don’t remember
and sunshine can’t read roadsigns.
SOMETHING TO REMEMBER
Will you too be like others:
put yesterday’s dark against today’s
Well, please yourself. . . but bear in
they also charge: the sun sleeps with
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO FLOWERS?
butterflies will again be banished,
and bees will get pollen mailed to
“They mustn’t flit from rose to rose!”
And breeze will have to watch its step.
Bees, butterflies, even breeze
shall see only whom the law approves.
did anyone think of the flower’s fate?
How many can self-pollinate?
A POEM FOR THE IRANIAN POETESS,
FARUGH FARRUKHZAD (1934–1967)
Please tell our lord, the king’s good
that His Holiness came today and
the crop of sinners is ripe again.
Tell him, his reapers stand ready.
They wait to be told which hands to
which tongues to slash, which fields to
They want to know the names of the […]
They Should be told which woman to
which child to impale on a virile man.
They wait to learn the names of the
who must receive the benefit of the
and the innocents who should be
But tell our lord to bear in mind
this one request:
he must always give verbal orders;
writing only causes headaches.
IT HAS BEEN WRITTEN . . .
“. . . then Zaid cursed Bakar, ‘Your Mother
is more well known than your father!’ ”
this curse is your fate too.
In a fathers’ world you too, one day,
must pay a heavy price
for being known by your mother,
though your eyes’ color, Your brow’s
and all the curves your lips create
come from the man
who shared with me in your birth,
yet alone gives you significance
in the eyes of the law-givers.
But the tree that nurtured you three
must claim one season as its own,
to comb the stars, turn thoughts into
make poems leapfrog your ancestors’ walls . . . […]
a season that Mira couldn’t send away,
nor could Sappho.
Now it must be this family’s fate
that you should frequently feel abashed
before your playmates, and that your
must grin and bear it among his friends.
The name on the doorbell means
the world knows you by one name
A BIT OF ADVICE
in the course of a conversation
gaps of silence begin to occur,
spoken words turn silent;
therefore, my eloquent friend,
let’s carefully listen
to this silence.
I’M HAPPY TO REMAIN A BUTTERFLY
Midnight of my passing years . . . .
Did someone knock on the mute
or was I scared in a dream?
What house of love is this?
Such frightening rocks litter its base,
its windowpanes already chatter.
Perhaps the dread lies inside me
more than anywhere out there.
My dread of his handsome looks,
my awe of his mind,
my fear of a dance of wild abandon […]
before his pursuing eyes . . . .
I don’t wish to say: “There he is.”
Why should I lose what years have
my life of freedom, my free mind?
I know if I ever fell into his hands
he’d swiftly turn me into a housefly.
Confined to the walls of his desires,
I’d forget I had ever known
the joys of light, Breeze and perfume.
Yes, I’m happy to remain a butterfly:
though life’s needs conspire against me
at least my wings are still intact.
How long did we sit engrossed in talk
under the flowering jacaranda tree?
I don’t know. I only know,
the moon crept out from behind the
and placed its fingers across our eyes.
TO A VICTORIAN MAN
Instead of keeping me tucked away
in some safe corner of your heart –
instead of struggling with Victorian
in the days of Elizabeth II –
instead of combing world literature
to create one-word conversations –
instead of a vigil below my window
at every Spring’s first dawn –
just step forward
one day, out of nowhere,
and gathering me inside your arms
turn a perfect circle on your heels.
WHO THEN HAD THE TIME TO MEET
That I’d manage to glue together the
of my shattered pride,
repair the tattered wings of my aborted
and obtain my body’s leave to bid you
I didn’t know.
I had learned so little about myself.
Otherwise this ritual of saying goodbyes
could have ended long ago;
I could’ve found my courage earlier.
But who then had the time to meet herself?
Translated by C. M. Naim