Ghazal: In Pain

after The House Is Black (Forough Farrokhzad, 1962)


Look, as one must. Malaise: going with poverty, moving in pain,
imparting deformity. What then is relief but keep facing, in pain.

How would I escape from your face? The poet queries the wind.
It will not carry us this time. Only alongside, wreathing in pain.

No, the hand of others will—dispatch of sterile cottons against
teeth, skin wrinkles, inflamed foot fingers. While wiping: in pain.

The hand that hands food / the hand that helps move wheelchairs
/ the hand that knows with many hands how to be living in pain.

Who else to scissor bandages. Who to care for the lepers under
this roof. Where illness is curable: no beauty communing in pain.

You, name a few beautiful things! Celestial bodies, if not the body
in chador. If not the vase nor the mirror; ugliness yielding in pain.

Overlapping sound: call to prayers, the poet’s exile from interior,
wedding dance, humdrum of days—as if less wringing in pain.

When grayscale images meet solemn recitation, the poet records
& returns. Welcomed, she has been. No door-knocking in pain.

Look again. How could anyone escape from any human’s face.
Juxtaposition agrees not to look away: in understanding, in pain.