Poetry at Sangam



Parts of a Pedestrian in a Tunnel
 by Rasoul Younan

Translated from Persian by Hassan Fayyad
The sky was like an inverted beach
with blazing sand.
Punctured shoulders
kept alive the fear
that drilled itself into our bones.
Was it morning or evening?
We don’t remember.
Were we awake or asleep?
We don’t remember.
It was raining fire and sand,
we don’t remember anything.
We don’t like
the police coming to our door.
We were four, all of us insane,
inside cubic nightmares,
and what we wished for
was for the sun would rise at midnight…
We pulled the bloodied sun
from the throats of roosters
and took to the streets.
In the streets they gave us plastic flowers
and we foolishly fell in love
and betrayed with sincerity.
This is how
our story became known to all.
We desired love
without it false trimmings,
a world without guns.
On dark walls
we painted red roses.
Passersby laughed at us.
Laughed at us, the passersby.
All we did
was look at them.
had knotted themselves around the city.
We stayed in the city, decaying and singing:
The train that cannot carry us away from here
is not a train.

We were big boys
with small desires.
We were the small desires of big boys.
And behind the doors and windows
the storm that dwelled, then subsided,
was the chronicle of our unfulfilled wishes.
We were four, all of us insane,
and our life
was a tragic pedestrian
in an obscure tunnel.
We were four, all of us insane.
Four teardrops
the world had shed…
We walked the streets until dawn.
Until dawn,
we walked the streets.
Yet both the street
and the night
were endless.
We danced in the moonlight—
                                  well, we were insane.
In the moonlight, we danced.
The city whirled around our heads.
the police siren
halted our simple celebration.
We were afraid.
We shrank into a corner.
Later, the garbage collectors came.
They swept us away
along with all the dead leaves
and night’s leftover garbage.
We were four pieces of rubbish—
they swept us away.
But the city remained full of trash.
(From The Forbidden, Poems from Iran and Its Exiles, Edited by Sholeh Wolpé, Michigan State University Press, 2012)
←Rasoul Younan