Bolbol, captive

Hessom Razavi

 

Home is a crowded cage, summer’s Iran strung

with iron bars, cheap copper bells and trinkets.

 

Drawn to your whistles and trills, tiny virtuoso

and a rebel’s tasnif, captive on a Shiraz side street.

 

You dart and nip at the bars, seek crumbs or, perhaps,

the foreign feel of skin, starved for gentler keeping.

 

Nearby, a wizened man in an old Yankees cap sits

on faded marble, chews an illicit polony wrap.

 

A girl child delivers water, pauses to collect tips

and practice bare English, her eyes young, still lit.

 

She threads tables, al fresco among exhaust fumes

and drifts of orange trees, the city’s mixed harvest.

 

The sun approaches zenith; a forty-year spell warms

up still.  Enduring, the crowd and bolbol hush.

 

Released to fly, bolbol, would you lift to unrule

the roost, or moult to wilt, unused to being free?

 

Retrained in flits, bolbol, aviary to sanctuary,

would your hatchlings grow to sovereign chicks?

 

The girl child loosens her hijab, takes shallow sips,

waits to outlast the worst of the Jumhoori’s heat.

 

 

bolbol: singing thrush nightingale; motif for devotion, longing and loss in Persian poetry.

tasnif: metric song of classical poetry; lyrics are often from Hafez and Rumi.

Jumhoori: Republic; denotes ‘Islamic Republic of Iran’, established 40 years ago in 1979.

 

 

Hessom Razavi is a doctor and writer, born in Iran in 1976. He was raised in Tehran and Karachi, speaking Farsi and Urdu, before migrating to the UK and then Australia. He wrote his first poem in 2006, after a night of hospital shift work. His poetry has since garnered prizes in Australia and overseas.

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