Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
“Do you live alone?”
I am living with God”
Up there: one, two, three
In a room filled with scents of spices
And the familiar sound of bubbling soup.
In the morning, I go to the House of the Elderly
Where women draw pictures
And men play chess.
I sit at the samovar
And serve tea with cardamom.
When my grandson comes here at noon
I cook rice with barberry chicken.
Sometimes we go to the gym
He lifts weights upstairs
And I exercise in the water.
The light that comes from the skylight
Takes me with it to Tehran.
Every day from dawn to dusk
I worked in a workshop
Tying knots and pulling bobbins
And shedding tears for my children.
Fahimeh burned herself for love
Saeed was hit on the road
Taqi lost a leg in the war
And Babak was seven years in Evin Prison
With the shrapnel in his body.
Wednesdays I go to the Farmers’ Market
After shopping, I sit under a canopy
And watch people come and go
With their baskets in hand
Talking in a hundred tongues.
And then, came the day
When everything went red:
From Grandma Molook’s basket
To the carriage of her grandson, Brandon,
From strawberries of Li
To Amigo’s cherry tomatoes,
From the half-dome of a Chinese stand
To the Mexican orange bags,
From Azadeh’s anti-war fliers
To the rage of a redneck Joe,
From the donation box of battered women
To the newsletters of homeless men,
From the tambourine of streetplayers
To the sandals of pre-schoolers
Gathering around their teacher,
And suddenly death driving
In his red car boldly
With bodies of the Iranian grandma
And her American grandson
Under its bloody wheels,
And the rain pouring incessantly
Over the killed and injured
And a pair of woman’s shoes
Left on top of a car.
Today is their fourth anniversary
And I am offering noodle soup.
Look! The neighbors are coming
They want to take the elevator
To reach the thirteenth floor
And sit on the rooftop
Where it is closer to God.
They’ll eat soup and take soup home
And remember Grandma
And her baby grandson.
Copyright 20017 Majid Naficy
Majid Naficy fled Iran in 1983, a year and a half after the execution of his wife. Since 1984 Majid has been living in West Los Angeles. He has published two collections of poetry in English Muddy Shoes (Beyond Baroque, Books, 1999) and Father and Son (Red Hen Press, 2003) and more than twenty books of poetry and essays in Persian.