Letter to Father

By Shahrouz Rashid
Translated by Niloufar Talebi

Father used to say it wasn’t
until we arrived
at Samarkand that we would
realize we had forgotten
God with our things and it
would be too late to return our hearts
would grow weary
and we would spread
the cloth from Bokhara
and drink tea.

Last night I wrote
in my letter that when I stroll
reach the park clean the bench from bird
droppings I sit to watch the trees—
a little green a little light a little wind.
When the seagulls tussle
about I want to write a line
to maybe quiet them to continue
bird-watching then suddenly
I remember that I’ve forgotten
my pen I am overcome
with the strangest anxiety as if I’ve left
myself somewhere
in the world. Isn’t it strange father
this little incident and all this
anxiety as if five skillful scorpions are eating
my stomach inside
out, not to mention that it rains once
in a while and I have forgotten
my umbrella father
where am I supposed to run
to away from these
little incidences and vast anxieties?

Shahrouz Rashid was born in Azarbaijan, Iran, in 1960 and left for Germany in 1984, where he has been living since. He is the author of eight books of poetry, including Berlin Elegies and The Book of Never. He is the editor of an on-line literary magazine, Ketabe Siavash. His work has been translated into German and Swedish.

Niloufar Talebi was born in London to Iranian parents. She founded The Translation Project in 2003 to bring contemporary Iranian literature to the world stage in multiple languages and media, including books, live performance, and film. She has edited and translated An Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature Around the World, forthcoming in 2008.

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