We Are More: Two Poems by Noor Khashe Brody






Ghazal: A Letter

Of eight children, Mamani named you after sunlight.
                            Since I changed my name, you try harder to tread light.

Two decades ago you were Mama. But now
                                         I can’t always wait, azizam, for your green light.

I still fear khalehs’ shame if I confessed to you
                                      Things I have done on my knees in bare daylight.

Maybe we’re more alike than I know. Don’t
                                     Everyone’s sheetstains glow under the blacklight?

Perhaps, god willing, when I am your age
                                                Together we will remember and make light.

Whenever I’m brittle, a tough body knotted,
                                               On my branches you, like a bluebird, alight.

You feed me the last piece of crunchy tahdig
                                          Like it’s your mission that I’ll never weigh light.

In bed I lay dry-crying alone on schooldays
                                                       After you left for work before first light.

Are those red-eyed mornings the hushed reasons why
                                   You furnished each room with a blurred nightlight?

I’ve never memorized Hafez or read how the olive lamp
                                            Erupts untouched by fire — Light upon Light.

The first time I drove the old car, your knuckle
                             Bones white, we got stopped for your broken taillight.

So I heard – Az ki? – on the highways of life
                                                            We should go slow and travel light.

I must now reply to your message from Sunday.
                                         This poem, it seems, has burned today’s light.

As sweet nabat dissolves in bitter tea, jigareh mani,
                                                        I hope you will see noor in a new light.


Poem for Iranian Women, after June Jordan 

Since the first mother taught her daughter to grip the knife 
carve a star in rough skin  
crack back and peel to expose  
a thousand fertile rubies stowed  
in catacombs beneath filmy white veils 
like these pomegranate seeds, the women  
lie until hungry sky cracks  
open a thousand flushed faces  
shed a thousand white veils  
the women, the streets 
demand no bad hijabi 

My mother, curls still wet 
at a student protest leapt from the police bus 
and at parties bleach blonde cousins miss 
friends left for Canada or shot  
and I watch news on the TV, stuffed 
as aunts claim I need another piece of tahdig
the woman waves her white scarf  
as if in surrender 
I pool fesenjoon on rice, jeweled sweet-sour 
pomegranate stains the countertop 
a hijab floats in the Persian Gulf


Logo by Mina M. Jafari

We Are More is an inclusive space for SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) and SWANA diaspora writers to tell our stories, our way. Curated by Michelle Zamanian, this new column seeks to disrupt the media’s negative and stereotypical narratives by creating a consistent platform to be heard, outside of and beyond the waxing and waning interest of the news cycle. We’ll publish creative nonfiction, graphic essays, fiction, poetry, and interviews by SWANA writers on a wide variety of subject matter. 

Noor Khashe Brody lives in Oakland CA. They are a graduate of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People. Send noor fanmail, and find more published poems and crosswords, at noooo.org. More from this author →