Many Happy Returns

Partow Nooriala

Five mornings a week
Fifty weeks of mornings
My sun rises
In the rear-view mirrors of buses

And each day in an old courthouse
Awaits me a small desk
An English-Persian dictionary
A heap of summonses–a spiraling justice
And the relentless ringing of telephones.

On my cubicle wall
A tacked postcard –white-flower stem on black background–
(uproar of love between the lines on back)
A memory relived
As the Schubert
Passes through
My transistor radio.

On opposite wall is an image
Of Maya Angelou,
Ahmad Shamloo
Freeway maps
And a rendition of a love poem by Paz.

All day, wandering files
Are run through the copier
As are the throbbings of my tongue
In the veins of a most foreign language.

Each dusk, returning home
I halt passersby in search of
My lost days –In Los Angeles–
And ask the police after that young woman
Whose hands were chained In this
House of Fortune.
“Many Happy Returns!”
The voice of he
Who is in love
Ripples through my house
Via the answering machine.
A feverish teardrop waters
A burnt Jasmine leaf.

And then,
Traipsing in books
And stitching clothes.
Reading, writing, cooking
Washing, scrubbing
Surfing the web
Typing, sewing
Weaving memories,
Thread to thread, one by one
Moss stitching:
One stitch over, one under
One row crimson
One the color of sorrow.

And when night falls
Hidden from the moon
I unstitch the old threads
And send my keen eye
Clad in a gilded gown
Off to tomorrow.

Read the original Persian poem here.