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Earth and Water

By Zara Houshmand
January 10, 2001
The Iranian

You don't ask anything of me, you say.

(How can I ask anything of you?)

And yet we face each other empty-eyed

like two unanswered questions.


I am brittle twigs on the floor of the bare winter woods.

They snap under your shoes as you walk away.


I am blossoms, fragile beyond late returning winds,

fragile beyond the slow, slow melting ice,

fragile beyond time

in the cup of your hands.


You are tides,

and fickle as the moon returning,

reams of silver and smiling fish,

and tales of voyages beyond.

You are silver through my fingers, and light,

and now you are gone,


beyond the memories that have burned away like morning mist,



You are silver through my fingers, and sweet.

You have come a thousand miles underground

in summer's heat

and still you taste of melted snow.

Why here, why now?

You smile once and seep into the hungry sand

where roots grope blind.


I am roots, I am bark, I am hardy.

I am dry sand under your feet.

I am twigs, I am sand, I am blossoms.

I am nothing so real as hope.

I am nothing, but hardy as blossoms

the wind probes,

the fragile cup of a seed.

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