We Survived
We survived
by getting smuggled
through the Iran-Turkey border:
heavy backpacks,  
boots in silt and mud,
in tepid sweat and urine,
tongues wooden,
skin cut by thorny bushes and barbed wire,

Some we left behind to
freeze to death inside a big rig’s cargo trailer
overturned on a frosty highway,
iced bodies entwined,
as banyan vines.

Others drowned 
under flipped refugee boats,
as the sea
turned into a graveyard, 

Still others stood 
in an execution row,
perched doves
hanging over the ledge,
their chests velvety and arched
before they swing open their wings
to fly somewhere

We survived
to grind pomegranate seeds
for an Iranian New Year’s dish,
to hear the permeating abyss
between the hours
without the din of sirens,
to touch a lover’s backside,
to bear witness
to all flattened hills,
neighborhoods erased from maps,
homes rubbled to ground
with the two fingers
of a little girl’s corpse
poked out 
like a V.

One day,
in Tehran,
a sparrow may flap her wings
over a hunched weeping willow
outside the window
I looked through as a child

at all the faces that are now gone,
to remember
how the sun,
the moon, and the stars
all perished 
before reaching the edge
of another world.

Photo by Jiri/Adobe Stock


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