The Palace of Forty Pillars

Isfahan is half the world


Twenty pillars drip into the pool
their likenesses, where the likeness of a boy
wavers among the clouds, eyeing the boy
who’s waiting for another. All is dual:
two rows of roses frame the pool, in twos
the swans glide, each on another’s breast, then fuse
in a headless embrace. All is dissolved:
the boy outside the water is no more

a boy inside the water—his no more
the face defaced by its own lines on shattered
waves overlapping like a rose, the tattered
pillars strewn like petals. All is halved,
severed, like home and school, like love and being
loved—the boy no more than a way of seeing.

Excerpted from The Palace of Forty Pillars by Armen Davoudian. Published with permission from Tin House. Copyright © 2024 by Armen Davoudian. All Rights Reserved.