"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time." (T S Eliot)
"A dark and chanted verse is what I am." (
Forough Farrokhzad)

Monday, February 4, 2013

MODERN TEHRAN


They are the first shock
To your perspective.
Charging at you but never moving;
Looking back at you
But never seeing you -
And never caring much.
The mountains rise like fire,
But they are already black –
Except for the tops of snow,
Brimming over mostly white,
Like ashy vanilla ice cream.

Then your eyes move lower;
And the city comes into view.
It is light brown and beige
And every colour in between.
But it pleases you
And makes you warm to it.

At ground level
You are always lost;
Until you see the mountains
And north is clearly defined.
And you feel almost secure,
But not quite safe.
And your blood rushes –
You are very much alive.

The local people
Never look lost.
They stride with a purpose;
Or loiter with unstated intentions.
Even the women,
With covered heads bent low,
Have a dignity
That surpasses
The cheap familiarity
That passes for freedom
In whatever home
You flew from
For the sake
Of sheer curiosity.

As a man,
You cannot help but admire
The beauty of the women -
And sense yourself
Becoming competitive
With the men –
As you unconsciously
Search feminine faces
For some sort of response,
In much the same way
As if you were at home.

But it is truly different
Somehow.
So you adjust
To the local pace.
You find yourself
Longing for the sheen
Of jet black tresses
Beneath each fetching scarf.
You marvel
At the shimmer
Of smooth olive skin;
And you smile at smiles
That herald wit and humor
You might never comprehend.
And you search
Each garment’s movement
For those hints
Of shapes and curves
That make a woman.

You drink in the smells –
For there is no other
Drinking to be had.
The sugary fumes
Of the roasting beet
Assail you with delight.
Then a hint of something
Much more earthy
Astounds your nose –
It is the nuts –
Fragrant pistachios
That make you wish
For a beer or two.

You notice the bold young men
And the vibrant young women
Sneaking a peek at each other.
And you cannot help
But wish them well
And wish them safety
And wish them a chance
To know the joys
That you have taken
For granted.

All the time
You hear the noise -
Car horns blare louder
Than faulty mufflers;
There are brakes screeching,
And motors humming.
Voices engage –
But your ear is untrained.
So even the calls of greeting
Sound like an argument.
But the expressions
On countless faces
Put you at ease.

At the very end you wonder:
Why are these handsome people
Still so proud
After so much
Disappointment
At the hands of recent history?

Then you remember:
Great Cyrus was called,
By Yahweh (no less),
A messiah (His anointed).

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