I speak from the deep end of night.
Of end of darkness I speak.
THE GIFT I speak of deep night ending.
O kind friend, if you visit my house,
bring me a lamp, cut me a window,
so I can gaze at the swarming alley of the fortunate.
THE GIFT – trans. Sholeh Wolpé
The summer left long ago, reluctantly, trailing warmth behind her, and in swept autumn, as leaves left their trees, the unprecedented solitude that defines 2020 offered but fleeting flourishes of adventures to not so far off places. Oh, hum.
Now, as a fan of solitude, I’m well suited (more or less) for this year of phuktopolous of cancelled plans followed by bouts of right blawdy well rational stints of anxiety, and lots and lots of waiting. Finding the spark of familiar wisps of creativity have been an arduous task, at times (well, most of the time) absent. Sprawled out bored and listless, doomscrolling twitter like a junkie, it was a year of chaos and dichotomy, hypocrisy and lies, and murder hornets, because of course.
Exciting adventures, like bus rides to the edge of town for a job, in the heart of blawdy difficult to get to, eventually becoming just another lost cause, like so much of rotten 2020, were thankfully brief stints.
Tendonitis, as it turned out, was the result of that adventure, and since it was only a temporary gig, I resigned.
That day as the sun set, defeated, I took the long walk back to the far off place I had to go to catch a bus home. I didn’t have to walk, but I had to walk, to think, to try not to cry. Like some lost soul, walking the gravel at the side of the road, through the industrial sidewalkless ways, across the 401 highway, and through the congested hot mess of cars area I hate, but there it awaits you on the other side, everyone toing and froing, the chaotic mall where all the buses meet.
Masked up, and distant, I stared out the window all the way to my village, my tranquil oasis of kindness and familiarity.
The minute I got in the door, finally home, I cried the tears I’d held back – that was a little over a month ago.
My choices few, but I did have a couple left, choices that is, dreaded choices, but choices, still… luckier than some, I guess.
Journey’s, other walks I took, infrequently, along pathways that run by the river, with too much time on my hands, I retreated to my nook. Solitude embraces me, smothering the gloom, but with no room for anything more. So, I wait.
Even on walks here, and there, but rarely have I ventured further, like farther than the edges of the river as it flows through the city. In fact, walks are the only time I don’t feel distracted, so I should have taken more, but I didn’t. Just another regret from 2020, I suppose.
And, POOF, as with all the other things this year, with the Hospital being overrun with COVID patients, and outbreak was declared, and… next went my appointment at the Dentistry department to remove the rest of my horrible, no-good teeth.
Cause, like, of course.
Now, the chill of the late autumn air, and I sit here almost toothless, chagrined. Thank god for masks in public, just sayin’. I have a different perspective.
And, so seeking another of those Literary Witches to lead the way, I found this passionate Persian Poet.
independence * barriers * isolation
Forugh Farrokhzad (1935-1967) wrote sensual, nature-rich poetry, placing her among Iran’s greatest poets. Heavily criticized for resisting societal norms, Farrokhzad divorced at 21 years old, was the first Persian poet to write explicitly about sexuality, worked as a documentary filmmaker (check out the aware-winning The House Is Black), and adopted a son from a leper colony. Some believe that she prophesied her accidental early death in a car crash in the poem “Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season.”
The Literary Witches Oracle
illustrations by Katy Horan
booklet by Taisia Kitaiskaia
Translated by: Sholeh Wolpé
from: “Earthly Verses”
the sun grew cold
and the earth became barren.
The grass withered in the meadows
and the fish withered in the sea
and the earth no longer
welcomed the dead.
The night, like a strange specter
gathered and swelled in the pallid windows,
and the roads released themselves
into the dark.
No one dreamed of love anymore.
No one dreamed of beginnings.
No one dreamed of anything anymore.
I’ve spent the last few hours reading her poems, soaking in her words, her bold voice illuminates her thoughts, her passions, her rhymes and rhythms, of longings, loves, rebellion, isolation.
She lived poetry, within the words, reveals the cracks in the armour of her life, rebelled against the ties that meant to bind her. No poet of old in her, but a modern voice of women, and men, coming of age in the struggles of a people at odds with tradition. She was, an iconic iconoclast.
Till her tragically young death at 32, Forugh was “willful, determined, tenacious, fearless, and daring.” [from: The Library of Congress lecture on Forugh, featuring Iranian Scholar Farzaneh Milani]
And I admire her. Oh, if I could be so bold.
Even more, oh yes,
one can remain silent even more.
Inside eternal hours
one can fix lifeless eyes
on the smoke of a cigarette,
on a cup’s form,
the carpet’s faded flowers,
or on imaginary writings on the wall.
With stiff claws one can whisk
the curtains aside, look outside.
It’s streaming rain.
A child with a balloon bouquet
cowers beneath a canopy. A rickety cart
flees the deserted square in haste.
One can remain fixed in one place, here
beside this curtain…but deaf, but blind.
trans. Sholeh Wolpé
Her poetry speaks of her grandmother, of lovers, of trees, and the mundanity of life, seen from her eyes. Of things no poet before her had dared to speak, of things thought taboo, like a sinful screw, or three.
Forugh wrote with a sensuality and burgeoning political consciousness that pressed against the boundaries of what could be expressed by a woman in 1950s and 1960s Iran. She paid a high price for her art, shouldering the disapproval of society and her family, having her only child taken away, and spending time in mental institutions.lookwhatSHEdid.com | Sholeh Wolpé on Forugh Farrokhzad
Hers has been called a “protest of revelation”, daring to take away the perfume scented verse, and reveal her honest and passionate truth, for all to read. Powerfully dancing in that grove between modernity and tradition, born in Tehran, she grew up outside the city, between the forest and the Caspian Sea.
Her poem SIN gave her notoriety, for the open bare all affair, a thing she intended to keep doing, and so her marrige ended rather badly, and she lost the custodial rights of her son.
Her choices were her badge of honour, baring the brunt of her own truth, and not afraid to break all the rules, for her words. Sacrificing all she had, for these words that flowed from her ink stained fingers.
She is inspiring.
The Wind Will Take Us
In my small night, ah
the wind has a date with the leaves of the trees
in my small night there is agony of destruction
do you hear the darkness blowing?
I look upon this bliss as a stranger
I am addicted to my despair.
listen do you hear the darkness blowing?
something is passing in the night
the moon is restless and red
and over this rooftop
where crumbling is a constant fear
clouds, like a procession of mourners
seem to be waiting for the moment of rain.
and then nothing
night shudders beyond this window
and the earth winds to a halt
beyond this window
something unknown is watching you and me.
O green from head to foot
place your hands like a burning memory
in my loving hands
give your lips to the caresses
of my loving lips
like the warm perception of being
the wind will take us
the wind will take us.
Translated by Ahmad Karimi Hakkak
The Persian Book Review VOLUME III, NO 12 Page 1337
So, I walk with more intention, and if nothing else, I guess maybe the message is to live my poetry, not just write it, as Forugh did.