Poems

Once Upon a Time

in memory of Leila Seerahat Roshani 

Granny used to say
always keep your magic sack
tucked inside your ribcage.
 
Don't say the sun's worn out,
don't say it's gone astray.
Say, I'm coming back.
 
May the White Demon
protect and watch over you.
Oh, daughter of the dawn,
 
perhaps this sorry tale,
stuck in the mud,
was of your own doing.
 
Take the comb from the sack,
throw it in the Black Demon's path:
seven jungles will grow at his feet.
 
Don't say heaven's too far,
earth's too hard.  Don't throw the mirror
if you fear the sea and her nymphs.
 
Don't say there was, don't say there wasn't,
trust in the god of fairytales.
May Granny's soul rest in peace.
 
Give the mirror to Golnar's mother
who, down by the charred vineyards,
dreams of birds and fish.
 
Don't say the rooftop sun's too brief. 
Say, I'm coming and this time,
forget love's foolish griefs.
 
Shake out the sack.
In the name of the White Demon,
burn that strand of hair.
 
Wasn't there,
once upon a time ...?
Once upon a time there was
 
a girl in whose long, endless dreams,
an old woman with white braids,
forever telling beads, would pray:
 
‘May the Shomali Plain still fill with song
and through the ceilings
of its ruined homes, let light pour in.'

 

Translation notes

Once Upon a Time: this poem refers to a fairytale in which the hero sets off to fight the Black Demon, aided by the White Demon and the magic powers of a sack with a mirror, a comb and a strand of hair. Fairytales traditionally start with the refrain, ‘There was one, there wasn't one, apart from God, there was no one'.

2 Comments

1 Farzana Marie

Mashallah—this is a marvelous poem.

Zenda boshi Shakila jan and keep writing please!

2 Mahmod

Pacifist,Can you organize the paahprrgas in your post a little neater? I did the first two paahprrgas based on the contents of a book I have, but I am not sure of where the remaining paahprrgas begin and end.By the way, I used commas in certain areas to link sentences together, which is how it was written in a book I have.

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