Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Syracuse University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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ix Acknowledgments Writing this book has spanned more than a decade. Th e editorial and production teams at Syracuse University Press—Mary Selden Evans, Lynn Hoppel, Marcia Hough, and Lisa Renee Kuerbis—could not have been more enthusiastic...
Martyrs and Prophets
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It happened by chance. I was in the basement, away from all the mayhem on the street. My eyes followed a cockroach scurrying into an empty classroom where a book lay on some dusty boxes. As the roach crawled onto its frayed pages,...
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Red tulips are spring flowers, the fl owers of carnage and carnal pleasure, the sins of wine and war brought together. The tulips in my garden grow in color-coordinated patches, like the ones in Tehran’s Behest-e Zahra cemetery. I can almost hear them...
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A tangle of fi gures—of three-legged cats, open coffins, and little girls’ ribbons— takes shape in the white embossed porcelain coff ee cup. Shirin observes the patterns as she prepares to tell my fortune. Maybe this is the way one pictures a city in the wake of a war or a flood. Or the way one abbreviates the suffering of a...
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On the far corner of Broadway, a man takes refuge from the rain under a blue awning. He unfolds a table and slowly arranges his merchandise. Sorting through his umbrellas, he yells, “Five dulla, five dulla, five dulla . . . all sizes, evey culla, five dulla . . .” A young boy, maybe his grandson, stands at his side, guarding the...
Crows in a Graveyard
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An old photograph slips out of my purse as I step off the plane. The picture was taken five years ago. As I put it back in my wallet, I worry that I might not recognize Nasrin in the airport. Is that possible? Can a mother not recognize her child? Sometimes, when people ask if I have children, I’m tempted to say “no.”...
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So. This is how she lives. Th e apartment looms over Seventy-seventh Street, a concrete high rise with dark windows that shine from the outside. It warns the world to keep away, like a sign reading “Beware of Dogs!” or “Enter at Your Own Risk!” I stare at my refl ection in the bedroom mirror. The sight of naked...
The Sand Castle
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A pigeon sits on an elm tree staring at me. I wonder what he sees. Maybe like everyone else the fi rst thing he notices about me is my gnarled hand, is the way my fingers stretch out in a slow, contorted motion, struggling to straighten themselves out. But the more I stretch them, the more they curve inward toward...
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A man wearing a ski hat and thick gloves runs down a dirt trail. Toward the main yard, a group of schoolchildren awaits a tour of the surroundings. I enter the botanical garden from the left entrance. Next to me, a little girl looks at the tropical flowers at her side, but as she reaches for the petals, she’s cautioned to...
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At my parents’ annual rowzeh khani during the holy month of Safar, a sage clergyman stopped me by the door to say, “No matter what happens, always follow the path of God.” He wasn’t the regular preacher who presided over our yearly religious congregation. Without an explanation, Hajj Agha lift ed his hand, placed...
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“Do you want anything?” my store manager, Claudia, asks on her way out. Valerie calls out for a hot chocolate and I ask for an espresso. A small bell goes off when Claudia opens the door. Cold air creeps into the store, and Valerie and I huddle near a space heater. Wild winds holler outside the window. A woman wraps her...
Injured Race Cars
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A dried rose petal drops on the table. We sit in the smoking section of the restaurant even though Hamid requested nonsmoking seats. Every ten minutes or so, he glances at his watch or turns his head to see whether the waitress has brought the food. “Why are they so slow today?” he asks as a way of avoiding conversation...
Faces of Parsa
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Natives and tourists alike arrive in Iran with that same confounded stare. A gaze of exhaustion and curiosity aft er a twelve-hour stopover in Amsterdam followed by a six-hour flight. We’ve been in this state of uncertainty since entering Iranian air space. What will become of us once we’re on the ground? Hours of questioning...
Page Count: 120
Publication Year: 2010