Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad: Two Poems



He would forgive me, I am sure, when my
mother returns to the table; rustic bread
in toaster, a steamless cup of coffee beside
a plate of curdled yolk, the kitchen curtains
swelling with a wind that only the supernatural
know; before breakfast, she cooled my broiling
skin with a cold palm caressing my back—please
be a mountain, be a mountain firm beneath
the blizzard of grief, a camouflaged soldier rising
from the trenches of mourning, a lioness, my lioness,
she cries, stay steady in sunlight fading, or just be a cub,
be a cub I carry in your vacant savanna, be Ali
shuffling, uncornered in the ring, be a tree,
be wisteria, be dogwood, be red maple and
embarrass the most brilliant star, please
be a climber and climb until every pixel
of the sky’s bloom falls directly into your view;
I will forever rinse this cloth, she says,
and temper the fever that plagues you, but be—
is everything I cannot do, as dawn dangles
outside the circle that chokes her pleas, and
in her silence is the sound of a thousand hearts
splitting; she did not love me enough
to forgive me, not like the god who understood

“Temple of Baal, Starry Sky” © Saïd Nuseibeh; used by permission


After I tattooed verses into my bloodstream,

followed capsules into their buildings,

buoyed in the company of worried colleagues,

I transferred my money before I finished writing

thank-you letters, thank you, thank you, you did your best

(I’ll miss the quiet flakes, caffeine, making you laugh)

Then I filed papers for impatient clients; do this the right way

Leave no body in query; this is the right way

Clear confusion and debts, supply answers before anyone ponders

I fed the birds and scrubbed between floorboards

I folded scarves and sweaters for the poor; each day I pushed the checklist

and a dot of glee grew in my throat, like a pill, the closer I reached

October. I sat on a bench across from my home, with coffee

Dust suspended in a beam returned when I stopped asking for it

My phone in the other hand, buzzed; the dot, a point, now an exclamation—so I waited

“Colonnade in Temple Precinct, Night” © Saïd Nuseibeh; used by permission

Art Information

  • Photographs © Saïd Nuseibeh (Palmyra, Syria, 2006); used by permission:
    • “Temple of Baal, Starry Sky”
    • “Colonnade in Temple Precinct, Night”

Mehrnoosh TorbatnejadMehrnoosh Torbatnejad was born and raised in New York. Her poetry has appeared in the Missing Slate, Passages North, HEArt Journal Online, Chiron Review, and is forthcoming in Natural Bridge, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Pinch Journal. She is a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. She currently lives in New York City and practices matrimonial law.


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