by jamh

In Nineteen Seventy Four
in a dilapidated highrise
across the Zahara cemetery
we held our yearly seance.

There were Abbas and Omid
partisans of some sort,
tall, handsome, cheerful,
finishing up each other's word.

Manijeh, on the other hand
was stooped low, her hair an afro,
commenting on the smell.
Embers, she said, for the record.

The dark man wrote it down.
His name I can't recall,
a reflection on a wavy pond.
But I remember well his voice.

You might expect a baritone
instead of that high-pitched tone.
He was with Mariam, of that
I am sure. Her date. Her choice.

Mariam of desire, a name even now
dripping with honey, slowly turning
in broken calligraphy
the after image still bright red.

As Sepideh made her entrance
shrouded in white, her bare arm
even whiter in the oblique rays,
she passed us our parchment.

She instructed, succinctly
not to ask for much, reminding us
that the price, as always,
was in line with the size.

But I was in one of my moods
seeing Mariam with her man.
There was nothing I wanted.
Not riches, not even despise.

We closed our circle.
Sepideh brought the brass vase.
Manijeh linked with Abbas.
And I blinked once.

I blinked again when the chant
of a multitude of men
came from the first floor
deafening us as they climbed.

The light was gone. Night
flickered in between flames.
Separated, yet in line of sight,
we could see us on the ground.

Omid got trampled and was gone.
Something was wrong.
Like birds in flight, we ran to corners
bruised and dumbfound.

The crowd was a blur.
Some carried torches, some guns.
In fury, in agitation, in despair
they searched for us in vain.

Among us, Sepideh shone right.
Her cloak was wide, clothbound,
blending us to the walls,
her stance mocking our pain.

Every now and then a face
detached from the whirl.
Instead of enraged, it looked sad
and was soon lost among the rest.

We still stand in the four corners, watching
the darkness in the hearts of men,
waiting for a change, or even a chance
to mourn for our fallen Omid.

Each of us carries a stigma,
Abbas a pair of golden eyes,
Manijeh the Book of Turan,
Sepideh a spec of sunrise,

And I their humble scribe.
You may ask of Mariam, or her man.
She changed her name to Miriam.
And happily forgot ever after.



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