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Weekly Poem: ‘Necklace’


Distraught and sad,
anxious and agitated,
her face uncovered, her head unveiled,
unmindful of arrest or policeman,
oblivious to the order, “Cover! Conceal!”
Her eyes, two grapes plucked from their cluster,
squeezed by the times to fill a hundred barrels with blood,
mad, really mad, a stranger to herself and others,
oblivious to the world, beyond being awakened even by the deluge,
a particle of dust adrift in the wind, without purpose or destination,
lost, speechless, bewildered, a corpse without a grave,
carrying around her neck a necklace of curses and tears,
a pair of boots tied together belonging to a dead soldier.

I asked her: What does this mean?
She smiled: It’s my poor child’s, he’s sitting on my shoulders,
he has not taken off his boots yet.

Farzaneh Milani teaches at the University of Virginia, specializing in women writers in Iran. She is also one of the translators of Simin Behbahani, Iran’s foremost living poet. Behbahani has published 19 books of poems, two collections of short stories, a memoir of her late husband and numerous literary articles, essays and interviews.

In March, the government of Iran confiscated Behbahani’s passport as she was leaving the Tehran airport for Paris, where she had been invited to deliver a speech and read a few of her poems on the occasion of International Woman’s Day.

A profile of Milani and Behbahani aired Monday on the NewsHour.

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