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Thirty birds


Robin Jayne Goldsmith
December 20, 2004

The references in this poem are to Attar, Ahriman and Forugh Farrokhzad. For j. and the Persia Within.

You said at the end
I would find
That every journey is about
I trusted your hand
and in silence

I went.

We walked across valleys
filled with birds
and the seventh one
was the Valley of Death.
In Death Valley you rested your head on my breasts
as the clouds caress the mountains with erosion

and then

I saw you recede in the distance

and then
I saw nothing
but Death.

I slept.

I never intended to wake
but I woke
and somehow I was on top of the mountain
something had pulled me
and I looked

and I saw

and I heard
birds birds hundreds of birds
flapping their wings
bathed in light
I heard everything
the screams of delight
the pain
of the dying
the crystalline beauty of the bells
and angriman was there
angriman too
and his jackdaws
and the songgirl he hurled in to the wall
and the crashing of the glass
and the wretched earth
and the poor ye shall have with you always
(but why?)

and then

there were only
thirty birds
the mountain the mind
and memory and erosion

I saw a young child
alone by a road.
I remembered her name.
She had once been me.
I felt her recoil
from a slap on the face.
I knew who she was.
I understood.

we have all been abandoned
we have all been slapped
the mountain
on which I stood
had been struck

the birds too
had all been struck
every flapping every feather
every leprous flutter struck


my father
by the love he could not give
and my mother by the love
she gave too much

and terror
and feathers
and fear of the road

and the idiot angriman
foaming invectives

and you
who had left me
you too struck

and then
everything was


you and
thirty birds
and my mother and
my father and
one bird only

and I knew

I had reached
the end of my journey

and the motherfather

and I

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Book of the day

Borrowed Ware
Medieval Persian Epigrams
Translated by Dick Davis

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