June 25, 2019

Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad


The voice of running water
from the tap’s brass throat
echoing in the empty sink
comes before the azan in Isfahan.

My grandparents who still wake
before dawn to pray on time
take turns interrupting the stream
to wet their foreheads and forearms.

A few days into my visit
and the rustle of this ritual
is my daily alarm, my two eldest
relatives moving softly downstairs.

They tell me often
how they always pray for me;
divine perks I receive
as the first grandchild.

So I bear this gentle way
at this early hour, their ascent
from the sweet temptation of sleep
to say good morning to God.

Their devotion is so unassuming
it isn’t televised, so inside
that I shouldn’t use all these guarded
words here to narrate their wuzu.

From wasu, to wash, to become
beautiful, from âsu, to rise.
Land of the sunrise: Uh-si-yah
is how we say Asia. Why

is western synonymous
with civilized—to start, the sun

from Poets Respond
June 25, 2019


Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad: “As is all too familiar for Iranian-Americans, whenever Iran-U.S. relations escalate and become trending topics, we hold our breaths. Not only do I worry of course for my family members in Iran, but bearing the nonsense that some pundits spew on television and online is insufferable. It’s devastating when warmongers seem to think that American lives are inherently more valuable, and easily dismiss and even encourage the potential loss of Iranian lives. I wrote this poem to offer a tender moment in the ordinary life of an Iranian family, and to take a stance against the belief that anyone’s life is innately superior to another’s by virtue of their nationality.” (web)

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