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To My Sister

Terrestrial Verses

Then the sun cooled
and fertility left the earth.

And vegetation withered in the fields
and the fish shriveled up in the oceans
and the earth
did not open its arm
to the dead.

Night stood in constant commotion
behind all the pale window-panes
like a dubious illusion
and the roads
lost their extension in the dark.

No one cared for love
no one cared for triumphs
and no one
ever cared for caring any more.

In caverns of loneliness
absurdity was born
blood reeked of bhang and opium
pregnant women
gave birth to headless infants
ad cradles for shame
buried themselves in graves.

What bitter black days!
bread had won over
the wonder of prophecy
hungry, helpless prophets
deserted divine havens
the lost lambs of Jesus
n longer heard their shepherd’s call.

In the eyes of mirrors
motion, color, and form
reflected in reverse
and a halo of holiness
glowed above the heads of uncouth clowns
around the shameless faces of whores
like a splendid canopy.

Swamps of alcohol
exuding dry, deadly gases
attracted to their lower depths
inert masses of intellectuals
while in antique cabinets.
pernicious rats gnawed
at the golden leaves of books.

The sun was dead
the sun was dead, and
in the minds of the children
was a half-lost, indeterminate concept,
in their notebooks
they marked
its quaint sense
with a big black blotch.

The fallen masses of people
heartsick, broken, stunned
dragged their ill-omened carcasses
from one alienation to another
and the will to kill
swelled in their hands.

Once in a while a spark, an infinitesimal spark
suddenly imploded
the silent stupor of their society,
they rushed at each other
daggers in hand, men
slit one another’s throats
and rolling in pools of blood
raped underage girls.

They were immersed in their fear
and a terrifying sense of sin
had stupefied
their blind, dull souls.

And in public hangings, often
as the hangmen’s rope
pushed out of its sockets
the bulging eyes of the condemned man
they sank inside themselves
And their tired old nerves felt alive
at some lusty sensation.

And yet you could always see
these little murderers
at the edge of the public square

and staring
at the continual downpour of water spray
from the fountain.

Perhaps still
some confused, half-alive something
lurked behind their emaciated eyes, deep in their frigid souls
which struggled feebly
to believe in the purity of the water’s words.

Perhaps—but what an endless void!
the sun was dead
and nobody knew
that the sad little dove
flown off from the hearts is called—faith.

Imprisoned voice!
will the glory of your despair
ever be a tunnel toward light
through the walls of this loathsome night?
Oh, imprisoned voice!
Oh, last of all voices…..

Remembering the Flight Twenty Poems by Forugh Farrokhzad
A Parallel Text in English and Persian
Selected and Translated with an Introduction by Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak
Pages 43-49


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