Heirloom by Nazanin Soghrati

Poet name: Nazanin Soghrati Poem title: Heirloom Poem: Mother sleeps in the jade-glistening light, folded into the sunbeams and the gentle smell of pennyroyals The staticky cicada-woven radio is tuned to Persian classic Ebi’s luminous voice dappled with sumac-stained sonnets and sand-crusted stanzas Here the lemon sun bakes the laundry outside, and as they are dried and ironed, my mother wishes she could do the same to her parchment skin, to the wrinkles etched deep into her skin. How can I speak to her? How can I heal the cracks on what my mother left me? I thread the lyrics to the song in a language I used to remember, breaking chords on forgotten history, the musty smell of wood, the sweetened zing of saffron rice & cardamom tea leaves as they settle on lips and sink teeth into memories, hauled ashore by a past now rife in bullets. The warm summer chinooks whet the blade of youth, awaken memories of another life, the city I once lived and breathed until its language seeped into my bones. Forgive me for forgetting. Forgive me for breaking this heirloom. I am trying to remember the language of the birds. I unhook my tongue, sew it to the earth, search for myself among dead roots and splintered trees until it all comes back to me: the unshelling of roasted melon seeds on sticky August afternoons, the teal blue tessellations on mosques, the sound of the Tehran sky at dusk when everyone is asleep and it is so so quiet. Mother, I am working myself to the past, stitching together memories, imprinting family history into my skin until I never forget. I promised her something more than a carcass of foreign words, consonants sizzled in oil and vowels peg-legged and scabrous, dangling loosely from my mouth. I promised loyalty, symmetry in spirit, a body razored to speak english with one half and the rusty remains of Tehran with the other. The radio croons again, sings of home – mother’s fragile breaths blend into its yearning and the static of the telephone mellows the sharp movement of time into bluntness. The past fades ‒ becomes unassuming and shapeless until tomorrow, again, nostalgia tugs at my clothes, pulls some invisible string around the heart, and buries me in its gilded chest. For now, I open the window and slip the light through my fingers. End of poem. Credits: Copyright © Nazanin Soghrati Nazanin Soghrati is a 17-year-old high school student from Richmond Hill, Ontario. She loves poetry for its lyricism, striking immediacy, and above all, for its ability to convey so many dimensions of lived experience that are hard to communicate through structured