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Iranians never die

By Roger Sedarat
December 3, 2001
The Iranian


The strangest custom saves us all:

Taboo to write, speak, think, or call

About the death of relatives,

We learn to act as if they live.


So I have stories with no end

To tell, air mailed letters written

In unknown hands that claim uncles

Are well, just laying low until


Things die down here. But things go on:

My grandpa's pocket watch his son

Gives me for Roger Jr. winds

up about the circuit that he'd


Ride as judge, each second so dire,

Choosing men's fates, till he retired

And started traveling. He meant

To make my sister's wedding, sent


a letter written by an aunt

because he's busy and just can't

Sit down to write. I ask my Dad

Years later how my grandpa died


And hear his grandpa was a judge

And in Tehran had bought the watch

With one month's salary when few

Owned watches. But I want the truth.


Persians survive with their language

When it's impossible to gauge

The extent of sadness. We need

To half-believe in all we read


To keep ourselves from our losses

That, felt in full, would destroy us.

So we cling to made up letters,

............Censure truth, and kill our writers.


Roger Sedarat is an Iranian poet pursuing a PhD in English at Tufts University. His poetry on Persian themes has recently appeared in such journals as Atlanta Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Hanging Loose.

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