Poem by Sholeh Wolpe (Iran/USA)
Published in The Ofi Press issue 38.
Pickles and Donuts
Cold basements remind me of the dead
fruit my mother smothered in sugar, the phallic
pickles souring in tight lipped jars.
I keep my school uniform stained, my
long hair pulled back tight, my walnut
breasts cloaked with baggy shawls,
tell my friend next door, about the red
jam donut beneath our skirts, teach her
the waist twisting dance of wrapping childhood's
curtain around her body so soon unfolded
like voodoo air from an uncapped perfume bottle.
I breathe in books that turn my eyelashes
to blue feathers, my eyelid’s veins into delicate
wing bones that flap and lift, travel me
to an island house on stilt legs.
She eats the stone pages of an old Quran,
comes of age at dusk where bombs fall
on paved roads and the sky rains scalding
lava that streams and streams, carries her
to the sharp edge of the world.
Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran, and spent most of her teen years in Trinidad and the UK before settling in the United States. Sholeh is a recipient of 2014 PEN/Heim award, 2013 Midwest Book Award, and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize. Her eight publications include three collections of poetry, three anthologies and two books of translations. Her most recent publications are: Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths, and Breaking the Jaws of Silence: Sixty American Poets Speak to the World (both from the University of Arkansas Press, 2013.) Her poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of literary journals, periodicals and anthologies worldwide, and been translated into several languages. She lives in Los Angeles.
Read more about Sholeh here.
Image: "Pickle" by Swong.