Some have stamps in their passports
Emblems of official entry.
But the places inside me
Charted on the invisible map
Leading to nowhere in particular
are etched softly in the curve of my spine.
Some women go deaf with the sound
Of children crying, and weep
At the thought of more
Togetherness. And I keep looking
For a way to belong.
But when you have traveled far
You begin to long for that particular thing,
The sweet mustiness of your childhood room,
The mix of cumin and freshly-chopped parsley.
A color dull, but knowable,
Found in the detail of four walls,
Joining to shelter and confine.
Conversations about daily life
Have now detoured this longing
And the slow, deliberate pace
With which I earnestly set out
On this wayward journey.
Still, I want to speak the names of places
With worn roads and blue-domed mosques:
Isfahan, Tehran, Ahvaz, Meshad.
The places I want to say I have been.
I keep the box of inlaid enamel and wood,
Purchased at a crowded bazaar,
Whose lid fits a little too tightly,
Whose irregular triangles and stars,
Carry me past this place
Where I was born,
to that other
I think I have been.
Poetry reading: San Jose, Thursday November 4, 2005, 7:30pm
Persis Karim, Zara Houshmand and Katayoon Zandvakili will read and discuss poetry at the Martin Luther King Jr. library between Fourth and San Fernando streets in downtown San Jose. For details click here.