A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
I. Eve's Song My breasts are beautiful, And my buttocks even more. Why not be naked? Why not make one naked? Oh, waters of Eden, Pouring into four rivers, Be my witness. I saw my nakedness in your mirror, And God forgave me not. We were coming From behind big fig trees, And our kisses were blooming Like bits of ripe fig. Adam's fingers Were sliding down my skin Like a searching snake, And fig leaves one by one Were falling from my body. Then we heard the sound Of your fearsome strides And the lightning of your wrath Struck us down. Do not peek From behind high thatched walls. A wide world Is opening before us. II. Cain's Song I made a porridge of my wheat To repay your water-carrier clouds. But you were more pleased With Abel’s fat lamb. He is my brother. Every morning he comes out From behind his sooty stone pen And drives his flock Beyond my rain-fed farm Every evening He gives me milk And receives bread. We milk into one pail. We bake bread in one oven. We lie down on one earth. We open our eyes to one sun. I can do without your fatherly love And give my sorrow to my brother So that he plays it like a flute And I send you back this bloody dagger That you have thrown to me. III. Abraham's Song The horns of this ram charm And his eyes talk to me. No! I will not sacrifice him In place of my son. My soul is revolted at shedding blood. My Lord, I offer you this song Because a beautiful word Is the best proof of admiration And gratitude. IV. Moses' Song at Death I was eighty years old When I began this journey. Now I am a hundred and twenty. The earth does not smell of Fresh plowing anymore And God's fire in the mountain No longer warms me. From my rebellious generation in Egypt Only a few have remained And the wrath of God in the desert Annihilated all the rest. I was free only in Egypt When, in the quarrel between a Jewish farmer And an Egyptian constable, I did not remain silent. From here I can see The Promised Land, Canaan. Oh, you River of Jordan, Do not cry. Do not cry for me. I want to die here On this border mountain. V. Ruth's Song Ah! What a sweet smell Comes from this threshing floor. In my homeland, though, Wheat has just become ripe. The man that I love here Is sleeping by a heap of chaff. I am not a Jew, But the oracles have told me That David, the King of Jews, And Jesus, the lord of Christians, Will be born of my descendants. Oh, God, Do not unsheathe their swords And make their hearts gentle. Give David a beautiful voice Such that he sings of the pains of exile And give Jesus a healing hand Such that he gives hope to the hopeless And do not take from them The power of weeping So that they sob like me In this quiet night. There is a footstep And the light of a lantern. I hide myself beneath an old blanket And become filled with the aroma of wheat. VI. Ezra's Song The god of Babylonia Forced us into exile, Destroyed our temple, Put our women in servitude, Cut off our men's heads, And gave our dead to vultures. The Jewish God turned His back on us And called Nebuchadnezzar The whip of His wrath. Now we build a New Jerusalem And shouts of our joy Mingle with cries of our grief. No matter if Jews Have married Gentiles. Let us all gather at this tall wall And cry out in one voice Towards the dark sky, “Oh, you blood-shedding gods, We do not want you. Stay on your heavenly thrones And leave alone the soil of the earth.” Only our gentle hands Can rebuild this wall. VII. Job's Song Curse you, oh day! The day that I lost hope in God And found myself lonely. Praise to you, oh day! The day that I believed in myself And was filled with hope. Hail honesty in despair! Hail honesty in despair!
Majid Naficy is the author of many books in Persian and in English, including Father & Son (Red Hen, 2003).
Copyright 2020 Majid Naficy