Monday, January 28, 2013

Post #403 - Are We So Different?

Reading the text of Richard Blanco's poem, which he delivered in front of President Obama and assembled dignitaries (plus 20 million viewers at home) on Inauguration Day last, I thought about how the same poetical description could be done for Iran. There would be differences, of course, but many more similarities. With apologies to Blanco, then, an only slightly altered paean to oneness:

One Today

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Alborz, greeting the faces
of the Caspian and the Persian Gulf, spreading a simple truth
across the Dasht-e-Kavir and the Dasht-e-Lut, then charging over Mt. Damavand.
One light, waking up rooftop sleepers, each one a story
told by our silent gestures moving to begin the day.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
saffron-yellow piles of rice, the rhythm of taxi horns,
fruit stands: melon, lemons and pomegranites arrayed like rainbows  begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper --
bricks or yoghurt, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to serve tea, paint miniatures, or treat patients --
to teach poetry, or herd sheep as my grandfather did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to memorize, or atoms imagined
the "Persian culture" we keep creating and recreating,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
the sons lost in the war with Iraq, whose faces stare at us
forever young at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into intricately-woven rugs,
life into the faces on tiled mosaics, warmth
into the steps of our mosques and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into play.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of rice, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning salt near Qom or digging qanats
to carry water to villages and farms, hands
building shops, taking power to country towns, hands
as worn as my father's mixing and molding mud bricks
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind – our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, ouds, and screeching trains,
the unexpected bol-bol on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky well-pulleys, traffic police whistles,
or whispers across qaveh-khaneh tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: befarmaaid, salaam, qorbaan-e-shomaa,
or hosh geldin in the language my mother taught me – in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Takht-e-Suleyman and the Zagros claimed
their majesty, and the Zayandeh Rud and the Karun Rud worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving reeds into baskets, finishing one more kilim
for the customer on time, stitching another sofreh
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a piece of calligraphy,
or the last floor on the Milad Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.

We head home: through the pall of smog or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always – home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooptop
in every kucheh, of one country – all of us --
facing the stars
hope – a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it – together.

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