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Just when he’d given up on poetryThe poetry pulled him back in again.His sister-in-law held the manuscriptLike an infant, a prisoner’s journalIn verse about herself as a child bride.She sliced the head off of her mean husbandWhich she compared to sacrificing lambsIn the Qu’ran. Freed after blood moneyFrom her people to his, they forcedHer marriage to the brother-in-law then.At peace in the US, though still at warWith factions of the Islamic regime,The poet’s politics allowed lawyersTo trust him with the right to translate it.He found himself believing in language,Its power to question those in power.The Persian text felt like a rattlesnake,The jagged letters like fangs from her hand,Ink coiled to strike the readers’ eyes and ears.Connected to the author by in-laws,Both hers and his, a signifying chainBetween two worlds. Far from the same old, “BridgeAs linguistic/cultural translator,”He soon became a frightened snake handler. [End Page 93]

Roger Sedarat

Roger Sedarat is the author of two poetry collections, Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, which won Ohio University Press’s 2007 Hollis Summers’ Prize, and Ghazal Games (Ohio University Press, 2011). His translations of classical and modern Persian poetry have appeared in World Literature Today, Drunken Boat, and Arroyo. He teaches poetry and translation in the MFA program at Queens College, City University of New York. [sedarat@yahoo.com]

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