Monday Dec 04

Wolpe Sholeh Wolpé is the author of Rooftops of Tehran (Red Hen Press), Sin—Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad (U of Arkansas P), and The Scar Saloon (Red Hen Press).  She is the associate editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East (Norton, 2010), the guest editor of Atlanta Review (2010 Iran issue), and the poetry editor of the Levantine Review, an online journal about the Middle East. Her poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of literary journals, periodicals and anthologies worldwide, and have been translated into several languages. Sholeh was born in Iran and presently lives in Los Angeles. Email. Website.

Diminishing Silence

In the bathhouse, she is violent with her skin.
Her white cotton gown smelling of the sticky-
sweet garden, sickens her as she washes the bloodstain
in tears and cold water, squeezing her eyes tight
to forget what pressed against her newly sprouted breasts,
the stony hands that pinned hers to the rain-soaked
soil, the lightless eyes so close to her own
when he entered, pumped her as she had often watched him
pump her brother's bicycle, panting like a vulgar animal,
groaning like a slowly deflating beast.

She had not screamed because her rescuers,
she knew, would become accusers too...
What were you doing in the garden at Midnight?
The moon you say? The garden air, you say? Damn
the flowers and damn the whore-making moon.

For this,
her tears had remained stifled and her body still,
as her soul numb-cold as a river kept on moving


What We Don't Hear

We call it a small black ant.
It calls itself something we don't hear.
When it walks across our windowsill,

we say it's marching on our windowsill,
and we pull it
into our ark of time.

The sun always sets, into what?
The wind invariably blows, to where?
This ant marches, to what beat?

We see a sky because we've named it sky.
At night when stars bloom, where in that black
does "sky" go?

We say "love" and bind it to the pumping
of blood, we call things "dead" and live
imagining it is given to us

to name and rename,
to fit the world into selves
smaller than this black ant.