The Ruins of Bam
Translated by Idra Novey and Ahmad Nadalizadeh
For the city of Bam destroyed in the 2003 earthquake
The window is black
the table, black
the sky, black
the snow, black
I don’t need medicine
or a psychotherapist.
Just lift these stones,
sweep aside the earth
and look into my eyes!
that are round like the Earth
an image of the world
the world of shut doors
of countless walls
anytime I stand before the mirror
the image of an upside-down tortoise
makes me long for a passer-by
to arrive and invert the world
our hands will tremble from all this solitude
and our depiction on the canvas
will be scribbled out
the ruins of Bam scribbled out
the shelters we built
collapsing on our heads
I am terrified by the next images in this poem
the image of God lifting all the doors onto his shoulders
retreating far and then farther
I write: one day
the missing keys will be recovered.
What should we do about the missing locks.
Copyright © 2020 by Garous Abdolmalekian, Idra Novey, and Ahmad Nadalizadeh. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 21, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I wrote the poem one month after the 2003 earthquake that struck the ancient city of Bam in southern Iran. It was around that time when I realized the earthquake had shaken not only the world outside, but also inside me. In the poem, the crack in the earth gradually extends to the human soul and to humanity’s relationship with the whole existence.”
Garous Abdolmalekian is the author of seven books of poetry including The Middle East Trilogy: War, Love, Loneliness (Cheshmeh Publication, 2019) and Lean Against This Late Hour, translated by Ahmad Nadalizadeh and Idra Novey (Penguin, 2020). He is currently a poetry editor at Cheshmeh Publications in Tehran where he lives.
Date Published: 2020-05-21
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/ruins-bam