Whereabouts Unknown

Whenever we used to reach a forked road,
you would say,
There is always the third path,
point to the sky, and laugh.

I still have not said what I should have said
all those years ago:
Be careful, my love,
this is a cruel world.

Look at the bloodstains on Tehran’s walls
that read,
Death to the dictator,
all the houses with gates unlocked
to offer refuge the protestors fleeing
the armed guards.
Is it too late
to say it now?

It is 10:00 p.m.
You are not home.
I call all your friends,
the emergency rooms,
and the morgues.
Your whereabouts
remain unknown.

Even your favorite café,
where you order Turkish coffee with a side of milk,
a thick and vital bitterness, and listen
to “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen too many times,
has been shuttered by the regime.

you told me about your nightmare.
You were a prince seated on a gilded throne,
then you turned into a skeleton buried in cobwebs and flies.
The falcon on your left shoulder
morphed into a ravenous vulture.

I know how to interpret dreams.
I wept in the other room.

Before you joined the protests, you said,
This sea is full of sharks that look human,
be a fast and steady swimmer!

I am in the sea, treading water,
my neck above the surface,
my limbs submerged
in cold, shadowy currents.
The gray, murky life buoys my body,
devours the silver mist.

I scout the hazed horizon.
It is too quiet.
I hear God’s heartbeat,
the wail of the contracting hour.

I await some death
to show his face,
so that I can ask
where he has seen you last.


Leila Farjami is a poet, literary translator, and psychotherapist. In addition to publishing seven poetry books in Persian, her work has appeared in Cathexis Northwest Press, Euphony Journal, Hey, I’m Alive, Midwest Quarterly, Nonconformist Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Pennsylvania English, Poetic Sun, Poetry Porch, Press Pause Press, riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature, Spotlong Review and Sun; was published by Tupelo Press for their 30/30 Project; and has been translated into Swedish, Arabic, Turkish, and French. Leila has appeared in poetry readings and on Persian TV and radio interviews about her poetry. She studies poetry with Rachel Kann, enjoys translating sacred poetry by Rumi into English, and has translated a comprehensive volume of Sylvia Plath’s poetry into Persian.