“Sitting in the courtyard,Kamand Kojouri
I watch the woman sweeping.
I luxuriate in the sound
of the bristles of her besom
against the ground. She sweeps
in an invisible pattern only she
understands. I study her hands.
They are blackened with chimney dust—
not unlike the soft dust she’s now sweeping.
It rises in a cloud above her, which makes me
wonder: Where does it come from?
The dust on our overworked hands and travelled
shoes. The dust we inhale and cough
into our handkerchiefs.
The house dust, the road dust, the concrete dust,
and cosmic dust. Where are they born?
Perhaps they come from our aged bodies.
We shed our skins like we shed our beauty—
not all at once.
And we walk freely on this blanket of dust
without paying any mind to our ancestors,
though we walk on them! Tread softly,
for you tread on Yeats’s wrists and Poe’s
elbows. You tread on van Gogh’s ears
and Keller’s eyes. You breathe
in your grandfather’s lover and the little girl
you were when you were four. You smell them
after the first rain in a long dry spell,
or when an old lamp smoulders the bulb quite well.
These all serve as reminders
of our dusty secret:
we are all dust
So next time it settles,
remember to ask the dust!”
“I look at my parents
the way mothers look at their toddlers.
I take every chance
to witness them undisturbed.
To study every detail
as if sitting for an important exam.
I take note of their hands,
the curves of their ears, the way they
envelop a room and greet others.
The way their souls shine through
when they speak of something they love,
like a candid photograph
unveiling beauty and truth.
Even though I am present
in the same space as them,
I am distanced
because of the intensity of my love.
Every heartbeat reminds me
of the ephemeral nature of our bodies
and the blessedness of these moments
until my father looks up from his book
and catches me smiling.
And like a child he is bewildered for a moment
and smiles back.”
“The first music I ever heard
was only one hundred and sixty days
after I was conceived.
Have you ever heard the sound
a blessing makes? This is it.
The first thing I ever saw
was only one hundred and eighty days
after I was conceived.
It was a bright light
soft like clouds
warm like candles.
Have you ever seen the colour
of a blessing? This is it.
The first time I ever suffered
was in the three thousand and sixty seconds
after I was born.
I listened for her heartbeat.
I searched for her light.
I cried for the first time until she was born.
Have you ever known
a blessing? A twin is it.”
“At a night like this,
where it’s just me and the yellow moon,
I feel complete.”
“I was so blessed.
The first person
I gave my heart to
was an angel
who plucked the feathers
off his wings
and built a nest for it.”
“Lisbon, to me,
is the Lisbon of Pessoa.
Just like London is Woolf’s,
or rather, Mrs Dalloway’s.
Barcelona is Gaudí’s
and Rome is da Vinci’s.
You see them in every crevice
and hear their echo
in every cathedral.
I’d like to be the child,
or rather, the mother
of a city.
But I neither have a home
nor a resting place.
My race is humankind.
My religion is kindness.
My work is love,
and, well, my city
is the walls of your heart.”
“What can I tell you
about the alchemy of twins?
two bodies that dance
to each other’s joy.
Two minds that drown
in each other’s despair.
Two spirits that fly
with each other’s love.
two separate beings
conjoined at the heart!”
“These poems are cups
that I pour my life into.
“I find myself drunk in the streets again.
A glass of wine and so my thoughts begin.
I smile at passersby to and fro,
Faces like blank slates minutes ago,
Now emotions readily painted on canvases:
Grief, despair, joy, and madnesses.
At this time, the clouds are sweating sweet water
And you can smell the scent of each corner:
Fish, dirt, rotten apples, and burning tyres.
Close your eyes here to smell all your heart desires.
Everything is more colourful when you’re not yourself.
So long as you’re sound body and mind, you have your wealth.
I am no longer treading but fleeting.
Birds singing, bicycle bells ringing.
I have lost my way but not my heart.
Have my head, those two are apart.
Take care, dear city. I must soon head home.
Until tomorrow night, when again I will roam.”
dad kissing mom’s hand when it cramps.
seeing a Persian woman dance.
Ugly is not the absence of beauty.
is the inability to identify it.
to be surprised by it.
It is the persistent reluctance
to be made a child by it.
the manifestation of