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Do You Speak Persian?

Some days we can see Venus in midafternoon. Then at night, stars

separated by billions of miles, light traveling years

to die in the back of an eye.

Is there a vocabulary for this—one to make dailiness amplify

and not diminish wonder?

I have been so careless with the words I already have.

I don’t remember how to say home

in my first language, or lonely, or light.

I remember only

delam barat tang shodeh, I miss you,

and shab bekheir, good night.

How is school going, Kaveh-joon?

Delam barat tang shodeh.

Are you still drinking?

Shab bekheir.

For so long every step I’ve taken

has been from one tongue to another.

To order the world:

I need, you need, he/she/it needs.

The rest, left to a hungry jackal

in the back of my brain.

Right now our moon looks like a pale cabbage rose.

Delam barat tang shodeh.

We are forever folding into the night.

Shab bekheir.

from Calling a Wolf a WolfFind more by Kaveh Akbar at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kaveh Akbar
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Kaveh Akbar Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.