The Richest City (A poem about my grandmother for Forough Farrokhzad)

What gives itself to the dawn

Is taken back at night

And given tomorrow again.

What is given to the dawn

Is taken from the night

And what is given to the light

Is given back to the dark

And whatever is taken from one

Is given to the other.

 

Your hands and feet and cheek

Have not withered.

Your arms and legs, my love,

Have not withered.

 

I have followed the soft line

Of your long neck,

Overcome with awe and curiosity.

I have followed the soft line

Of your neck

As if I were on the edge of an ancient city,

A rich city

That is only real

When I press my hand to its side and

It walls rise before me.

 

And wherever I have gone

I have not come back from

Completely.

My love, I have dragged my hand

Through those cities

And pulled you from the walls and streets.

My love, I have

Pulled you from the dirt of those cities

And I do not have to hold your hands

For your hands to be in my hands.

 

Who is it now that rubs their hand against my cheeks

When I am crying?

Who is it now that rubs my cheeks

When I am crying?

 

And if they wilt,

Your hands,

If they wilt

Then they wilt like the flowers wilt.

They wilt like the flowers wilt.

Becoming more, turned against themselves

And pulled away from the light and

Given to the darkness again.

 

What is taken from the light

Is given to the dark

And whatever is taken form one

Is given to the other.

 

Your long neck

Does not wilt.

Your long neck and side

Does not wilt.

But if they do

Then it is like a flower

That has crawled back inside itself.

If they do

Then it is like the flower.

 

Then it is like the dawn

That is taken from the night.

Then it is like my hand

That pulls you from the walls of a rich city.

And wherever I have gone

I have not come back from completely.

And wherever I am

I am not there completely.

Because I cannot,

Because I cannot stop.

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