Last night a sparrow flew into my house, crashed against the skylight and died: I want to write a love song.
Poppy seed cake on china plate, tea like auburn gold, the New York Times open on the table, black with news, and the man I still love with me.
The newspaper says in Conakry a man is sticking his Kalashnikov into a woman. Now he’s pulling the trigger.
Hummingbirds zip through the garden. My lover slowly rocks in the hammock, a spy novel on his stomach.
I flip a page and a Nigerian soldier shoots a man because he’s parked badly, and takes the dead man’s hat.
The bougainvillea has burst into pinks and reds, the colors of Kabul’s sidewalks after a suicide attack. The child next door squeals with laughter.
How hard is it to write a love song? A little in-the-moment swim, a bit of Bach—perhaps.
Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran, and spent most of her teen years in Trinidad and the UK before settling in the United States. She is a recipient of the 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. This poem is from her latest collection, Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths. Visit her website at www.sholehwolpe.com.