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Reyhaneh Jabbari, a twenty-six-year-old Iranian woman, was hanged

on October 25th, 2014 for killing a man who was attempting to rape her.

the body is a mosque borrowed from Heaven centuries of time

stain the glazed brick our skin rubs away like a chip

in the middle of an hourglass sometimes I am so ashamed

of my sentience how little it matters angels don’t care about humility

you shaved your head spent eleven days half-starved in solitary

and not a single divine trumpet wept into song now it’s lonely all over

I’m becoming more a vessel of memories than a person it’s a myth

that love lives in the heart it lives in the throat we push it out

when we speak when we gasp we take a little for ourselves

in books love can be war-ending a soldier drops his sword

to lie forking oysters into his enemy’s mouth in life we hold love up to the light

to marvel at its impotence you said in a letter to Sholeh

you weren’t even killing the roaches in your cell that you would take them up

by their antennae and flick them through the bars into a courtyard

where you could see men hammering long planks of cypress into gallows

the same men who years before threw their rings in the mud who watered them

five times daily who shot blackbirds off almond branches

and kissed the soil at the sight of sprouts then cursed each other when the stalks

which should have licked their lips withered dryly at their knees may God beat

us awake scourge our brains to life may we measure every victory

by the momentary absence of pain there is no solace in history this is a gift

we are given at birth a pocket we fold into at death goodbye now you mountain

you armada of flowers you entire miserable decade in a lump in my throat

despite all our endlessly rehearsed rituals of mercy it was you we sent on

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.