(for my uncle, Bahman Mohassess)
Your mouth was not always song.
It was the living room cracked open
into a tilted ravine,
where you flew and I sat
in the deep and nodded as needed
in our near conversations,
or it was the taxi cab or the museum, twisted
during one of our long visits
into a sudden maze irreparable,
when inspired by a naked sculpture,
you were reminded of the time Poseidon
punished Odysseus and I silently wondered
if they may both drop by
for cardamom tea and sweets in the afternoon
and how nice that would be.
With no points of reference, I created my own.
You planted no solicitous sign posts,
nor painted them pretty for a girl child.
I hung on your every word,
especially the Italian ones
and the French ones,
but you scattered no bread crumbs
for me to collect and arrive
safely at you.
When you soared over our ravine,
you cast no shade and I was old enough
to make you coffee,
old enough for you to buy me my first bra,
old enough to be beautiful,
but when you told me stories,
no, not bedtime stories, I was too old for that,
you omitted the determiners, the demonstrative pronouns
went missing and I rummaged
and rummaged through your words
but without them I could not fit your gorgeous
adjectives and adverbs into my jigsaw puzzle,
and they sat in my inept hands
like wasted opportunities to love.
I wanted to love Poseidon at the fountain,
and Picasso entertaining
the Parisians at Montparnasse.
I was too shy for hyperbole
but before we met
I had already memorized love
and the morning star.
Before we met,
I used to be enough, just a short while ago,
back home where everyone spoke my language
and allowed me to forget my name,
before we met to sit together
in your living room, live together
in museums, taxi cabs, hotel rooms
where fresh-cut flowers never died
and I prayed that no one would ask my name.
But I was in it for the long haul,
I ate at your splendid table,
and adorned it daily with a rose from your garden,
and over the years I memorized
the undulations of your love.
The often whip and the always caress of it
censored and modeled my becoming.
And I was to your liking.
Master sculptor, when you pressed upon me,
I fed you spoonfuls of silence,
the salve for the lacerations in your mouth.
Rooja Mohassessy is an Iranian-American living in California. She is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Pacific University.
Editor's note: Iranian Artist Bahman Mohasses was a prolific artist working in sculpture, assemblage, and painting, as well as theatre and literary translation. He studied, worked and lived between Italy and Iran. He is known as the "Persian Picasso" and is considered by many to be most prominent Iranian artist of the past century. Many of his works were destroyed by the Iranian authorities during the Islamic Revolution, and the artist later destroyed many works himself. Remaining works are rare and in high demand by collectors. The Iranian-American poet Rooja Mohassessy is his niece.
The Ekphrastic Review
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