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, bleeding. Some we left behind to freeze to death inside a big rig’s cargo trailer overturned on a frosty highway, iced bodies entwined, inextricable as banyan vines. Others drowned under flipped refugee boats, as the sea turned into a graveyard, afloat. 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 forever-far. 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