Our house was at the end of an alley,
at the end of all things it seemed
when we were little girls living
among the shadows of
the trees bearing figs, sour
And Forugh, always with her notebook,
filling those pages with what?
It seemed so big in her small hands then,
as if she herself could fit inside those pages.
She would climb trees,
hop on walls,
howl like a wolf,
fight with boys she would rather have
She put her arms out one moonless night,
pretended to be an airplane, to be the entire sky,
and I watched from the dull pond, home
to the red goldfish and brown frogs,
because my eyes were stuck on her.
Everyone’s eyes were stuck on her.
when she married, moved to a city named
after a song,
she found something like freedom
in plucked eyebrows,
eyes lined thick with black,
in painted lips red,
and short, short skirts.
But more than that
it was perhaps her disheveled hair,
those ink stained hands
as blue as oceans on a map,
taking over the entire earth it would seem with
such small hands.
Holding a paper that had been folded and
squeezed between her fingers
for days, years, her entire life
as she walked into that editor’s office.
They would call her a poetess,
because poet would mean
being a woman didn’t matter.
And it always matters.
And even in such freedom,
she lost him.
An unfit mother they proclaimed,
a whore making love to all the world
with her words.
I have sinned a rapturous sin
in a warm enflamed embrace.
Sinned in a pair of vindictive hands,
arms violent and ablaze.
When someone wants to reach the heart
of this Earth,
it becomes impossible
to not always do just this.
I want to hang my heart like
A ripe fruit
On every branch of every tree.
Even in the beginning, even on
that fig tree at the end of the alley,
at the end of all things,
she hung it there too.
It still sways in the damp air
as if no one is watching.
There is no box large enough to hold
the way a woman
sees a naked body,
to hold such small hands,
her hands, with those large blue inked oceans
like true, replenished skin.
I will not speak of death,
of cold lips,
and the movement of machines,
of skin and bone touching concrete loud enough for
all to hear.
But I will say that always, always at the center of it,
even by that dull pond as I watched her write,
fly, howl, it was always love.
Yes, so love begins,
and though the road’s end is out of sight
I do not think of the end
for it is the loving I so love.
She was buried under the snow.
Perhaps the truth was those two young hands
those young hands
buried beneath the snow-
and in the coming year when spring mates with sky behind the window,
fountains of green saplings, will erupt-
saplings that bloom, beloved, my truest friend.
*Based on a “A Brief Biography” in Sin-Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad
translated by Sholeh Wolpe