Poetry The Ecstasy issue

Border Walls

By Forough Farrokhzad

Translated from the PERSIAN by ELIZABETH T. GRAY, JR. 
Illustration of the phases of the moon

Now, again, in the silent night
barrier walls, border walls
grow tall like plants
guardians of the fields of my love 

Now, again, the filthy hubbub of the city
like an agitated school of fish
decamps from the darkness of my shore
Now, again, the windows find themselves
pleasured by the touch of diffused scents
Now all the trees asleep in the garden slip out of their bark
and through thousands of pores the soil
inhales the dizzy particles of the moon

come closer
and listen
to the disturbed beats of love
like the tom-tom of an African drum
that spreads chants through the tribe of my limbs
I sense
I know
the moment of prayer, which moment it is
Now all the stars
are making love with each other

Protected by the night I drift
from the end of all that is breeze
Protected by the night, with my heavy hair
I cascade madly
into your hands and I make a gift to you
of equatorial flowers from this young green tropical land 

Come with me
Come with me to that star
to that star that for thousands of millennia
lies far from the frozen soil and empty scales of the Earth
And no one there
is afraid of light

On islands floating on the surface of the water, I breathe
I am looking for a piece of the vast sky
uncrowded by base thoughts

Come back to me
Come back to me
to the beginning of the body
to the fragrant center of a sperm
to the moment that I was created from you
Come back to me
I have remained incomplete because of you

Now the pigeons
take wing
above the peaks of my breasts
Now inside the cocoon of my lips
butterfly kisses contemplate flight
the mehrāb of my flesh
is ready for love’s worship 

Come back to me
I have no words
because I love you
because “I love you” is a saying
that comes from the world of futilities
and worn-out things and repeated things
Come back to me
I have no words 

Protected by the night
let me become pregnant with the moon
Let me be filled
by small drops of rain
by not-yet-developed hearts
by the form of unborn babies
Let me be filled
Maybe my love
will be the cradle for another Jesus



Forough Farrokhzad (1934–1967) was an Iranian poet, filmmaker, screenwriter, and painter. During her lifetime, she published four poetry collections: The Captive, The Wall, Rebellion, and Another Birth. She also translated the work of George Bernard Shaw and Henry Miller, and made a groundbreaking documentary, The House Is Black, about a leper colony in northeastern Iran.   
Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. is the author of the poetry collection Series | India. Her translations from classical and contemporary Persian include Wine and Prayer: Eighty Ghazals from the Díwán of Hafiz, The Green Sea of Heaven: Fifty Ghazals from the Díwán of Hafiz, and Iran: Poems of Dissent.