Letter to America by Sholeh Wolpé

One Poem

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Dear America

You used to creep into my room,

I was eleven and you kept coming,
night after night, in Tehran, slid in
from inside the old radio on my desk, past
the stack of geometry homework, across
the faded Persian carpet, and thrust
into me, with rock and roll thumps.

I loved you more than bubble gum,
more than the imported bananas
street vendors sold for a fortune.
I thought you were azure, America,
and orange, like the sky, and poppies,
like mother’s new dress, and kumquats.

I dreamed of you America, I dreamed
you every single night with the ferocity
of a lost child until you became true like flesh.
And when I arrived at you, you punched
yourself into me like a laugh.




Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran. Her publications include four collections of poetry, a play, three books of translations, and three anthologies. Her modern translation of The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017) by the 12th century Iranian mystic poet, Attar, has been hailed by Reza Aslan as “timeless as the masterpiece itself.” Learn more at www.sholehwolpe.com.
Read poetry by Sholeh Wolpé appearing in Terrain.org, as well as Terrain.org’s interview with Sholeh Wolpé.

Header photo of radio and lamp by chrisli8020, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Sholeh Wolpé by Bonnie Perkinson.


Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.