Roger Sedarat & Rouhollah Zarei
An Elegy for Desert and City (by Nader Naderpour)
     for Nosrat Rahmani


The earth has forgotten
the mercy of rain in small springs,
and the wind has blown out the red lights
on wild sour orange trees
in pathways of the forest.

From a distance, disturbed hills
shout out the ruthlessness of time,
and gold lizards in narrow holes,
like the earth’s tongue,
complain with the wind.

Ravens, waiting for winter on dry treetops,
chew the bit of snow on the Alborz peak
with their eyes.
Perplexed spiders, deprived of weaving,
wander among weeds.

Playful young sparrows nest
from lacerations on ancient trees.
Blood and pride season the bread
in travelers’ insignificant backpacks.


In the city
doors and archways stand only as tall
as the short men.
No woman raises her head
from behind a window.
Frenetic need has removed the callus
once so visible on the forehead
of the praying man.
The tap of fear on window panes
disturbs children’s dreams
and occasionally the rain
washes away traces of blood
into drain pipes.

Men have enclosed their dead hearts
in small alcohol vials
and girls store their affection
in powder boxes.
Friendship has no meaning;
People have forgotten each other’s languages.
A host of migrating words
without permission to pass
travel from borders toward printing houses
and sob;

this mouthful, too big for the throat,
has filled the hunger pit,
wetting dry bread with tears.
Children’s energy has run,
morning to evening,
in alleyways of mischief
and on rooftops,
waiting to ambush pigeons
and blind the eyes
of street lamps with stones.

The sun and the moon,
red and yellow balloons,
fly in the vacant sky
and days and nights,
these counterfeit coins,
rub off in dirty hands.

The laughter of flowers
no longer inspires windows;
singing no longer comes from vocal cords.
Cigarettes, between fingers,
have long replaced pens
and addiction smoke
has darkened both hearts and houses.
A man, away from his wife’s eye,
longing to win the game,
loses his ace of hearts
and a woman who paints
incessantly repeats her picture
in the mirror’s frame.
Placing paper flowers and artificial fruits
in pots and containers
she loves “Still Life.”


In city and desert
the devil claims absolute dominion;
in the sun
no sound but crickets
cursing the wind with their stuttering.
The absence of clear voices
except from passers-by
in alleyways occasionally starting an old song
with these incomplete lines:

“Absent hope!
isn’t it time to come?
Though the stone of revolt in your hand is almost too heavy too hold,
Perhaps it will still hit
the distant target?”