Tuesday Poem


My family arrived here in a Marxist tradition

My mother immediately filled the house with Santa knick-knacks
Weighed the pros and cons of the plastic Christmas tree
as if the problem were hers

During the day she distinguished between long and short vowels
as if the sounds that came out of her mouth
could wash the olive oil from her skin

My mother let bleach run through her syntax
On the other side of punctuation her syllables became whiter
than a winter in Norrland

My mother built us a future consisting of quantity of life
In the suburban basement she lined up canned goods
as if preparing for a war

In the evenings she searched for recipes and peeled potatoes
As if it were her history inscribed
in the Jansson’s temptation casserole

To think that I sucked at those breasts
To think that she put her barbarism in my mouth

My mother said: You are a dreamer born to turn straight eyes aslant
My mother said: If you could regard the circumstances as extenuating
you would let me off easier

My mother said: Never underestimate the trouble people will take
to formulate truths possible for them to bear
My mother said: You were not fit to live even from the start

My mother said: From the division of cells
from a genetic material
from your father’s head
But not from me

My father said: From the clash of civilizations
from a fundamental antagonism
from my tired head
But not from her

by Athena Farrokhzad
from Versopolis
translation: Jennifer Hayashida