Persian Poetry: I know a woman

A Monthly Column

By Mehdi Bagheri

I know a woman

I know a woman

Who wants to flutter with passionate ardour

So eager

But too scared to begin the tour

I know a woman

Who at a corner in the house

Sings about love in the kitchen

As she cooks

She looks modest and abandoned

Her vocal, exhausted and despondent

But her hope, in prospect and existent

I know a woman

Who says she regrets

Setting her heart on him

As he’s not worthy of her fondness

And a woman mutters

From this house, be a runaway

Then she asks herself

After I have left

Who will comb my child’s hair?

A woman pregnant with pain

A woman holding a grieved babe

A woman cries and says

She’s no milk in her breasts

A woman in a dark corner

Reciting a shining prayer

A woman accustomed to chains

A woman familiar with jail

That’s all her share

Plus, the scary leer of the concierge

I know a woman

Who perishes of disdain

Yet intones

This is the fate’s game

A woman puts up with poverty

Sleeps with her eyes being misty

Envying with perplexity

Not knowing why she is guilty

I know a woman

Who her poem has the smell of distress

But she chuckles and says

The world has twists and turns

I know a woman

Who reads her children stories

Despite the agony

Within her chest

A woman afraid to leave

For being candle of the house

If she goes out the door

How dark will it be in the house?

I know a woman

Whose skirt is yellow

For being sterile

Her days and nights are sorrow

I know a woman

So run-down, she can’t go

All her steps way-worn

Her feet on her heart

She utters it must stop!

A woman sings

A woman remains nonvocal

A woman stands in middle of an alley

Even by the nightfall

A woman, at work, like a man

Feels pangs of blister on her hand

She is hurt and she is sad

And she forgets

Her unborn babe is growing her figure

A woman on a deathbed

A woman close to her end

I don’t know! I don’t know!

Who is looking for her?

On a tiny bed

A woman dies at a slow pace

And a woman gets her revenge

From a man who lechers

I know a woman…

– Fariba Sheshbolouki

(Translated by Mehdi Bagheri)

It is March and in this column, I decided to dedicate the translation of this poem, versified by a woman, to all the women who have made my world a better place.

Fariba Sheshbolouki is a contemporary young poet whose poetry style is modern and rhythmic. We can call “I know a Woman” her most celebrated poem that drew huge interest in her poetry content.

In this poem, in a clear and simplistic tone, Fariba tells us the struggles that are mainly unique to women. After we read through the poem, the thought of how much we know about these struggles clings to our mind.

One thing I was reminded of, as a man reading through this poem, was the sacrifices my mother made in raising her children and all her feelings that were unspoken of until we reached a certain age.

I have come to realise that as I read more through poetry and literature written by women, there is so little I, as a man, am aware of when it comes to knowing and understanding the gender inequality and all the struggles that women are forcefully put through. Here I find it necessary to encourage all the readers to read more works of literature written by women.

Oh and let’s not forget to celebrate Women’s Day on 8th of March, for all the women who had a positive influence in our lives.