Sunrise after sunrise
Leaving my dreams under my pillow
I rushed to comb the sleep out of my hair,
Hurrying the dawn into the sun
So as not to be late for school.
Suddenly a strand of white hair whistles to me
As if time is a train rushing to make its last stop.
In school I had to pledge to God,
To the Shah, and to the Country
Day after day
While I was wishing to pledge to Truth,
To Love, and to the Unity of Man
Day after day.
Though thousands of days have piled up
Adding fifty years of weighty exile to my uneasy life
I am still inside that soft-boiled egg of a boy
Wondering who I am and where I am
And why there are so many separations
Alas, history is unresponsive
And self-examination pains the mind
And God is too busy making earthquakes,
Hurricanes and new diseases to listen to anyone.
(One would expect that God could do better with His time).
Missing home and thinking of home,
I imagine winds circling the mosques while chanting:
“No deceptions inside the mosques.
No deceptions inside the mosques.”
And I imagine myself on the craggy crest of the Alborz
Watching the mourners pound their chests
While rounding two giant graves,
One burying happiness,
And the other burying possibilities,
Leaving only the hard rocks of life
For lovers and truth seekers
To hobble over on tender bare feet.
I smile as I imagine the moon falling into the Pacific Ocean
(How is it that the moon fits just right),
Blasting tall waves all over the mountains and plains
Cleansing the dirt and the poison
The lies, the pretensions, the cruelties,
Wiping out the misery
That so stubbornly stains every corner of earth.
I imagine neurons rebelling–
Like eagles against gravity–
And rejecting the instructions installed in them
To turn mankind into robot-kind
To obey, to destroy, and to kill without question.
When all is deep-blue and empty-blank
I try to rebel against my own mind
Programmed when I was too young to realize
That the programmers were creating a me for me,
Not envisioned or approved by me.
So I count my gray hairs and I meditate
To help my mind revolt against itself
(Something I think we should all do)
To acquire the disciplines of not avoiding pain–automatically
Or seeking pleasure-instinctively
Or following orders from within or from without–robotically.
To the bosses of this world–
Eyeing me with suspicious, or angry eyes–
My revolutions and evolutions
Are dangerous misconducts,
While to me
My revolutions and evolutions
Are just me being me,
Being me and becoming me.
I imagine the cold-blue waters of the Caspian
Tinkling into my neurons
Lifting me through a magical mist
Full of vaporous kisses
To a heaven on earth
Where I get to love everything before I get to die.
Where I find the real world a little more like my imagined world.
Professor Manoucher Parvin is a scientist, novelist, and poet. His latest work is a novel-in-verse entitled: “Dardedel: Rumi, Hafez, and love in New York,” published by The Permanent Press. You are welcome to email the author.