“All Bodies” by Darius Atefat-Peckham

Darius Atefat-Peckham


As in every language, 
there are different words 
for all bodies 
of water. Somehow 
it still surprises me
how many. Like the goldfish 
who died one after 
another in the days leading up 
to Nowruz, the New Year 
at their budding
lips. There are rules:
I don’t know them yet. 
From what I can tell, 
rood-khaneh is House 
of River. The Ocean 
The Seas. You will find 
fountains and springs 
in any suburban 
yard, children’s hands 
submerged within them.
And you can become 
imprisoned in any 
window you see
through. Once 
kayaking, my small 
boat flips over
in the rapids. I become 
like a fish, betrayed 
by my own opened
mouth. For fourteen days
I drown in my 
great-grandma’s kitchen, 
and the sabzeh grows 
backwards into 
itself. The rings 
of my scales sound 
outwards. My belly 
splitting open 
the surface. I pretend-
die like this, watching 
the people twirl together
like water-bugs, some heaven 
above me. A young boy 
wades over to watch 
me, from the other side 
of the glass, eating 
myself to death.

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022


Darius Atefat-Peckham: “In my poem ‘All Bodies,’ I was interested in exploring the acquisition of knowledge as a way of attempting to know a place—the beauty and pitfalls of this method. Learning about the history, language, and culture of Iran has been one form of transport for me as I yearn to go there physically, but can also feel, at times, like an imprisonment of sorts: of the body, the spirit, the mind. I guess I wonder if there can exist something about connection that is beyond the physical. Can we connect in the breathing, the drowning, the looking? I think we can and many of my most recent poems are attempts to do so.”

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