A voice says, “Cry.” And I said, “What shall I cry?”
(Isaiah 40 : 6)
Thick black hair pulled primly back,
Almond eyes dark like charcoal,
Olive skin recalling velvet.
Then the rush of red
And the cries of her companions.
Oh … those cries!
Before we wept with them.
She looked like the Persian girls,
Who graced our offices,
And worked with us
So they could learn English.
Yet somehow they taught us
About their courteous country
Before we realised.
They were blessed by curious energy,
Smiles brimming over with goodwill,
Laughter like music in their voices,
Calling each other ‘joon’.
Perhaps members of her family
Breezed through our peripheral vision
Before we went home again.
We were all so young then,
Living in 1970s Tehran
At a time when we heard
Its people knocking noisily
On the doors marked ‘freedom’,
Seemingly prised open,
Before once more slammed shut.
They’re still knocking.
We can hear them in cyberspace.
Now they’re calling us with pictures:
A voice too loud to ignore today.
* On this day (20 June 2009) a young Iranian was murdered by a Basij sniper in Tehran. Videos of her terrible death screened on internet sites all over a justly horrified world. Her name was reported as Neda, meaning ‘voice,’ or ‘call’, or ‘cry’.