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Cover story

Poem from "A World Between: Poems Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans" - a collection of writings by 30 authors and poets edited by Persis M. Karim and Mohammad Mehdi Khorrami (1999, George Braziller Inc., New York; 352 pages).


I Pass

By Zara Houshmand

You deal, the wide world.
I hold the cards close to my chest:
I bluff.
You call.
I pass.

In a crowd,
in a mall,
in a mob,
I pass.

"You speak English very well."
Damn right, and so do you.
This language is my meat,
my trade, my life's blood,
my weapon and my drug of choice.
I'd slice you open with it,
but I pass.

"Zara. What a pretty name.
Where's it from?"
The far side of the moon.
I pass.

Zaragosa, Zarazuela, Zarathustra, Zara Dada.
But, God forbid, not Zahra.
Don't strangle me, don't bury me alive.

Beneath the veil you find the bearded lady.
If you want to look,
you pay.

An acting exercise:
huddled in this private place
I say my name, again, again, again.
Zara... Zara... Zara...
So strange this name,
so strange
how my name
brings tears into my eyes.
And in my voice I hear:
a knife,
dead lovers calling me,
a voice beyond the grave
deep, deep inside;
a child unheard for many years
and still she hasn't grown.
Zara, innocent,


- untitled: Katayoon Zandvakili

- Back to "Aftershock" main index

- Comment to the poet: Zara Houshmand
- Comment to the editors of "A World Between": Persis M. Karim or Mohammad M. Khorrami
- Comment for The Iranian letters section

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