Fatemeh Shams

Translated from Persian by Armen Davoudian

On that day which is still today all your verbs changed to the past: forty-one years living in each other’s arms until today, when one of us is here and yet is not in this house, where imaginary interrogators invade memories of love-making and this neck, which everyday trembles at the prospect of the noose and these eyes, which almost black out scanning the corners of the room for cats

Forty one years until today, when one of us is here but the other is not in a house where heavenly angels of death toy with memories of childhood and this locked mouth, no longer in search of an excuse to laugh or kiss

On that day which is still today you lost all sense of verb tense:

  • The guests are still here, they have not left
  • The guests would like some tea
  • The guests will take me with them
  • The guests took me with them to be hanged…are taking… will take

Every day: pouring tea for your executioners ordering kebab for your executioners staring into the eyes of your executioners writing a letter of confession for your executioners

Every day: forgetting familiar names to make room for the names of your imaginary executioners forgetting familiar bodies to flee from delirious shadows

Every day: a day which is still today a day when your present condition will be summed up in the simple conjugation of a tenseless verb in your dumb, timeless tongue


روزی که هنوز اکنون است زمان افعالت به ماضی تغییر می‌یابد: چهل و یک سال عاشقانه در آغوش هم زیستن تا امروز، امروز که دیگر یکی از ما اینجا هست، امّا نیست در خانه ای که خاطرات عشقبازی در اشغال بازجویان ِ تخیّلی‌ست و گردنی که هر روز برای سپرده شدن به طناب دار می‌لرزد و چشم‌هایی که در گوشه‌ و کنار اتاق‌ به دنبال گربه‌ها سیاهی می‌روند

چهل و یک سال تا امروز، امروز که یکی از ما اینجا هست امّا نیست در خانه‌ای که فرشتگان مقدّس مرگ با خاطرات کودکی بازی‌بازی می‌کنند و این دهان قفل که دیگر به دنبال بهانه‌ای برای خندیدن و بوسیدن نیست

روزی که هنوز اکنون است زمان افعال در ذهن تو برای همیشه گم شده است:

  • مهمان‌ها هنوزهستند، نرفته‌اند
  • مهمان‌ها چای می‌خواهند
  • مهمان‌ها مرا با خود خواهند برد
  • مهمان‌ها مرا با خود به پای چوبه دار بردند… می‌برند… خواهند برد…

هر روز: چای ریختن برای جلّادانت کباب خریدن برای جلّادانت زل زدن در چشمان جلّادانت اعتراف‌نامه نوشتن برای جلّادانت

هر روز:

از یاد بردن نام‌های آشنا برای به خاطر سپردن نام‌ آدم‌کُشان تخیّلی‌ات از یاد بردن تن‌های آشنا برای فرار از سایه‌های هذیان‌گو

هر روز:

روزی که هنوز اکنون است روزی که طرز بودنت در زبان ِ‌گنگ بی‌زمانت و در صرف ساده یک فعل بی‌زمان خلاصه خواهد شد.

Armen Davoudian is the author of Swan Song, which won the 2020 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. His poems and translations from Persian appear in Poetry London, Poetry International, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and lives in California, where he is a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University.

Fatemeh Shams is the author of two books of poetry in Persian, the first of which won the Jaleh Esfahani Award for the best young Iranian poet in 2012. When They Broke Down the Door (Mage), a collection of her poems translated by Dick Davis, won the 2017 Latifeh Yarshater Awardfrom the Association for Iranian Studies. She is currently assistant professor of Modern Persian Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.