Kargar Street by Fatemeh Shams, translated by Armen Davoudian
by Fatemeh Shams
Translated by Armen Davoudian
in memory of Neda Agha-Soltan, who was fatally shot while participating in the 2009 Iranian election protests
Sometimes all it takes
is a piece of bread falling to the ground
and a sparrow pecking at the hot asphalt
for blood to gush out.
Kargar Street cannot rest easy,
its sleep is troubled by bad dreams.
Under its skin, it is hiding
a young girl’s death on the last day of spring.
Look at the names of all the cross-streets.
It would only take a drizzle of rain
for them to drip with blood and plasma,
the city government’s blue-white plates.
Take shelter behind a warm sheet of bread:
bread makes a good shield
against the curse of the dead.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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, and a critical monograph in English on poetry and politics, A Revolution in Rhyme (Oxford UP). When They Broke Down the Door (Mage), a collection of her poems translated by Dick Davis, won the 2016 Latifeh Yarshater Award from the Association for Iranian Studies. Her poetry has been featured in the Poetry Foundation website, PBS NewsHour, and the Penguin Book of Feminist Writing, among other venues. She is currently assistant professor of Modern Persian Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.
AUTHOR PHOTO BY Farideh hashemian
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Armen Davoudian’s poems and translations from Persian appear in Poetry, the Sewanee Review, the Yale Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Swan Song, won the 2020 Frost Place Competition. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and lives in California, where he is a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University.
AUTHOR PHOTO BY MATTHEW LANSBURGH • FEATURED IMAGE by Soroush Karimi via Unsplash