Mahmud Farani
The Guard

The market was rimmed
by the darkness of night,
a wizened bat traversed the skies,
a silent dog crouched
under the bench of a butcher shop,
gnawing fearfully on a piece of bone.

On the other side of the street,
on the cold stone pavement
under dimmed streetlights
a guard stood waiting for morning.

Far away, a tower clock thundered,
a dagger tearing the silence.
The guard’s eyes sparked in anger.
Still, he remained with the night,
continuous, without end, holding
the body of the town.

Under the faint light,
the guard’s half-opened eyes
nailed to the shop windows,
crawled like a spider to a pair
of children’s shoes. In his ears,
the sad voice of a child echoed:
Dad! Tomorrow is Eid. My feet are bare.

Translation from the Farsi/Dari by Bashir Sakhawarz.