A piece of woman's clothing


A piece of woman's clothing
by Majid Naficy

This is the revised version of my poem (Persian) which was first published in Persian in Shahrzad No. 4 November 2000 and then in English in Zyzzyva No. 61 March 2001.

I bring home the clean laundry
And spread it on the Persian carpet
I hang the shirts on the hangers
And the jeans on the door knob
Its waistband is still wet.
I pile the shorts one by one
And fold the T-shirts the way my mother did.
I match socks pair by pair
And tie each one together
Then I hang the towels on the rack
And put the pillows into their cases
My son's underwear has grown
And sometimes gets lost in my briefs
But his t-shirts all have his label.
And ... suddenly among the remaining things
A piece of a woman's clothing touches my hand
It is pale pink
Its front is made of net
And one delicate band
Connects the front to the back
I rub my fingers on this fig leaf
To extract all of its sweet juice
I open its waistband with two hands
And look at the well-sculpted thighs of a woman
Who is watching herself in the mirror
She touches her buttocks gently
And fixes the band with her fingers
She sits on the floor
And spreads her legs
Looking at that net triangle.
Then she takes it off
And sees the marks on her skin:
Around her hips and thighs
Under her navel and over her backside.
ah, you vivid void
How many years have passed
Since I've embraced a woman?
Put my mouth close to her ear
and taken a wisp of her hair with my lips?
How many centuries ago
Did I hug that firm body tightly
And free myself in its depth?
Who, for the first time
Took off that piece of clothing
And let that curious boy
Discover the secrets of the body?
It was in Urumia
That I reached heaven for the first time
She had a wrinkled face but a pretty body
I gave her a gramophone record.
At nineteen I found union
With a girl I worshiped for years
She looked at me from deep down
Behind her luscious breasts
Was I asleep or awake?
I called her from within the mist
Asking her constantly: "Is it you?"
The Revolution had the scent of love
Because of a comrade who became my wife.
One night I slipped down that piece of clothing
From the top of her thighs to her feet
She opened her legs but it remained
Dancing from her right foot
Like a flag of our love.
One day we took a train to Seattle
There was wine, green passion of the forest
And kisses leading to a dark corner
We found each other naked
In front of the bathroom mirror
And reached the top of our dance
Along with the train's movement
Suddenly the door opened and we heard: ah!
And the door was shut and we let it come.
And... oh Jennifer, that beautiful giant
When she knelt down from behind
I had to stand up high
to level with her hips.
And remember that she-wolf
Who opened her little mouth wide
And took my whole chin inside!
Ah, where are you my women?
Your void is still there.
Will I ever hug another woman?
Will she take off this piece of clothing
And put it in my hand?
I hide my face in my son's shirt
And ask myself:
"Who has left this piece of clothing
In my laundry basket?"

-- November 15, 1999

Majid Naficy's books include Muddy Shoes; Father and Son and Modernism and Ideology in Persian Literature. He lives in Los Angeles.