Written by Mahnaz Yousefi
Translated by Alireza Taheri Araghi
Edited by Thade Correa
Read by Christine Texeira 

Published 2/24/2013

remember now your heavy accent, Rasht
remember now our bodies drenched in the rain
that blew their tops at night
remember now your green hands
that are of that stinky gray ilk
no memorial left after the city
from Family Hospital1we arrived at Razi Hospital
with a fistful of veins and swallowed pills
with a woman in labor, with honking and pain as always

hey Rasht!
with that heavy traffic near your anus
dogs won’t understand your drivers’ sleepless nights
truth is, Rasht, truth is
when coupled cousins killed themselves in a family feud
we had an eye for Siyahkal and Lahijan and other cities too
we remembered Resalat Street
and the ambulance now far from this damned place
destroyed in vain by family distances
city in vain with your four seasons suspended in rain
truth is, we never belonged to you

no memorial left after you
the pungent scents of Zarjoob2
the pungent scents of the bazaar
we are afraid of mother’s breast that smelled of the fish seller
we are afraid, Rasht
many a wolf3 sniffs at you
“wolf” was the paradoxical identity of your writer too
had a distant relationship with the deceased
but wouldn’t cease
and what can make you know what men ended up deceased
oh, what men!
with all striped clothes in Lakan4

with every other sorry face of theirs behind the bars
and what can make you know what crucial role the airport played
like inflamed buttons of a sick breast
with everlasting cancer and instinct and nature
and what can make you know what it means that nature was blue at times
you are alone with sands
you are alone with kites
hey Rasht, you were the North and yet you did not have a sea, Rasht
did not have a sea, Rasht
did not have a sea . . .
poor Father
just that he planted Mozhdehi5 in your godforsaken place
poor Father

          just that because of you he was unmanly
though he was a standing man
just that he is standing on Sepid River6
with a hanging tongue and a tail out of sight
just that he is standing with his back to Tehran
with a bone in the tooth and a bruised howl
poor Father
just that he didn’t know your map looks like the head and neck of a lonely dog
just that forlorn
just that mapless
just that citizenless
just that we are a few drags heavier than you

you can still          Ali

you can still          Hasan

Mitra          Soheil          Hooman          Farzam

you can still          the neighbor’s kid
Emad and Samira
you can still          Saeed who was lonely in this damn place
only if there were a memorial left of you so we could pray for you
only if you knew that nature was Lahijan which was high at times
you should say hani instead of hande
you should say tara instead of tebe7 
and use no verb other than fuck
— How long is Amin taking shelter in your fucking place?
stared, stoned
withdrew with your anus

Amin was silent . . .

so many names names
just that we crave names no more names
with you nothing to do, Rasht
with anyone else nothing to do, Rasht
just that we have nothing to do we take to tension
just that we take to tension we have nothing to do
my dearest Rasht!
with that ilk of yours sucking off the breast
with the drinking struggle in the mouth
with a couple of glasses of milk after the suicide pills
we roamed through your pharmacies night and day
and every time we were out of antidepressants
we took to contraceptives
and every time we were done
we were pregnant
we are afraid of postpartum depression
you tell us you tell us what to do what to do with the orphanage we have in our wombs
you tell us you tell us what to do with the blood clots clots
boy’s bulging arms
girl’s full breasts
and bits and bits of fetus pouring out of your threshold
who were home alone?
who was hugging their knees
crying into the cuffs of their sleeve?
who in the darkness were
the destiny of the gloves in the closet?
who was it that announced the international blood day
when we returned—mature—
from the apartment bathroom to your streets
too afraid to tell mother
about the below-the-belt pains
in the first unfinished municipal pot hole?
who was it that walked in you friendless?
only if there were a memorial left of you so we could pray for you
and then come back with our back
to the bona fide madmen of the bazaar
back to the bona fide madmen

to the bona fide madmen
no memorial left of the city
no memorial left of the city
no memorial left of the city
no memorial left of the city
no memorial left of the city
no memorial left of the city
. . .


1 A maternity hospital in Rasht. [Note by the poet.]
2 Zarjoob is a river in Rasht, also neighborhood by the banks of it. Zarjoob is one of the two branches of Sepid (Persian for “white”) River.
3 [Originally varg,] Means “wolf” in the Gilaki language. Also a Gilaki writer’s pen name. [Note by the poet.]
4 A village in Gilan Province, Iran.
5 An orphanage in Rasht. [Note by the poet.]
6 Second longest river in Iran. It flows through Rasht and meets the Caspian Sea.
7 Hani (West Gilan) or hande (East Gilan) means “again,” and tara (West Gilan) or tebe (East Gilan) means “for you.” [Note by the poet.]


Listen to this poem:


Mahnaz Yousefi / Born 1989 in Rasht, Iran / Condolences to the Woman (Tehran / 2010) (Updated Feb. 2013)

Born and raised in Northwest Indiana, Thade Correa is a second-year MFA student in poetry at the University of Notre Dame. He has previously studied at the University of Chicago and Indiana University, Bloomington. His work has appeared in various literary journals, including The AuroreanIbbetson Street, and Modern Haiku, and he has recently been honored with the 2012 Billy Maich Academy of American Poets Award. He currently teaches creative writing at Notre Dame and is an editorial assistant for The Notre Dame Review(Updated Sep. 2012)

Christine Texeira is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Notre Dame and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Whitman College in 2010. Her thesis, a collection of short stories entitled Worrying Myself Sad, focused on the anatomy of magical realism, its necessity, and the exciting hints of such in primarily realist stories. While attending Whitman she participated in the Instant Play Festival, wrote a book column for The Pioneer and served as copy editor and prose editor on its two literary magazines, Quarterlife and blue moon, where her work was also featured. A former research publications intern at the British Museum, Christine is well-versed with ancient Etruscans and byzantine weights. She is a reader for NorthNorthwest and has most recently worked at Richard Hugo House, a nonprofit writers center in Seattle. (Updated Mar. 2013)