Poetry at Sangam



Religion by Amy Motlagh

My father says: If she’s so concerned, she can hire someone
to say them for her after she’s gone. It’s all the same
to God. He can’t believe in the merit of children
reciting prayers for him after death, or in an afterlife
gotten to on tiptoe, across the razored filament
of truth. Still, he tried to bury her quickly,
in the white shroud prescribed by the religion, and he upheld
the Turkish coffee and the halvah, which we rolled
between our palms days after her death, waiting,
then ate it, the oily paste lining and closing
our throats at her graveside, where the showy gladiolus
and tea and dates marked us out again
against the green, clean-shaven American lawn,
and my father’s cousin chanted the fatiheh in his place
just before the backhoe tamped soil into the hole
and the hired men folded sod over her grave.
(From The Forbidden, Poems from Iran and Its Exiles, Edited by Sholeh Wolpé, Michigan State University Press, 2012)
←Amy Motlagh