Poetry at Sangam



From Amsterdam to Tehran by Mohsen Emadi

Translated from Persian by Sholeh Wolpé
Day will soon break on your ashes,
break on this round plaza where
doves are circling in fear.
The plaza now becomes a deep
well inside your laments
from which the doves break away.
The well is your mouth
joined to a feverish body
that spirals to the center
of the earth into the molten
mass of nameless wounds.
The doves flee far,
and inside the wind’s quiet wail,
your ashes slap the faces of passersby
who quiver with pleasure
watching the fireworks.
The word is ash.
We sing and spread it
on wounds to stop
the blood’s flow.
Cold wind blows on my wound,
on this garment still aching
from its last intimate embrace,
and ravages all garments
of the world inflicted
with a contagious absence.
Women sit by a river,
their tubs filled with ash.
They sing and they wash dishes.
Absence is a small melody.
It is a fist-full of ash
sprinkled on greasy spoons,
forks, and plates,
on cups and saucers.
The women sing and splash
and the small melody
washes clean the memories,
molds with it a body
on which no stranger’s hands
have dripped wetness.
Ash remembers the first shape
of everything except itself.
The women sing and the moon
shimmers inside their melody.
The naked spears of grass,
of snow, tremble
in the recesses of teenage girls’ laugher.
The pubescent boys’ breaking voices
run on the surface of the songs.
Little bells
that hang on the necks of playful lambs.
Little bells
that hang on the necks of all objects
to not lose their way home.
Little bells
in the thick of fog tolling: I am here,
here where all women return home
with tubs empty of ash.
We will find each other
with these tiny bells,
with the small melodies of absence
when we light up a cigarette
in the whirling fog
and a spirit from inside the fog’s heart
approaches, a can of oil in hand,
and asks for a light.
The steam from breaths
are frozen,
and the fog has clogged
throats’ passageways.
Tonight, all church bells toll.
Tonight, the sheep wander
along the edges of clarity and fog.
Tonight, songs become ash
in the throat’s well,
shadows become ash
in the mirror.
Free of reflections, of shadows,
I overdose
on a blazing garment in the airport.
I overdose
on the floating islands in the execution circles.
I overdose
on the earth itself
that turns and twirls
at the very moment the plane takes off
and the stool beneath the feet
of a condemned is kicked,
or a garment is set ablaze
on the body of a nameless man
who opens his own veins on the lines
of this paper.
I overdose on you
from Amsterdam to Tehran.
(From ArteEast, Spring 2013)
←Mohsen Emadi