by Carl Boon
Snow in Tehran
I see a picture of a girl walking through a park.
Beautiful and amused, she can’t believe
the cypresses hold the weight of snow.
She wishes her mother were beside her,
an ally to behold this difference, this blizzard
that has left her with the word perspective.
The Americans believe we live in sand. They think
of camels, Islam, my mother kneading bread
inside an olive kitchen. Or bearded men.
She pulls her scarf against her throat
and comes to the frozen pond called Parishan.
In summer, my brother dips his feet in this water
and laughs. In summer, the implacable grips us
with the heat, fathers penetrate the way
we think. But now we’re bound; we disappear
or walk on—figures in pictures, figures
in a neverscape. I am twelve years old, she says,
I might never see this park snowlorn again.
Here is a House
Here is a house where no one’s lived
since the Greeks retreated.
Here is an instrument one played
when he was unhappy, when a girl
said goodbye at the window. Here is love
absorbed by decades and cannon
and wildflowers disappearing. Here is
a backgammon stone lost beneath
a wicker chair. In this house
Mother said the sea is filled
with strangers; I don’t know the word
next nor why it matters. They come
to sweep us under, asunder, the old
alliances of flesh and mackerel, the old
wood of politics and why a sister cried.
And so a sister cried when they made
the beds, discouraged, and so a brother
that watched the strange sky, snowing.
The Lover in Turmoil
The lover in turmoil
knows everything, knows even
what the doctor knows. Of winks
and what’s admired, of phone calls
answered in the middle of the night,
of scrapes made by human hands.
She shovels deeply
in the hamper for oddnesses,
bits of ketchup that may be blood,
bits of blood that may not be his,
a necktie inappropriately torn,
a fingernail, an eyelash.
The trousers are harder.
Some have gone to the cleaners,
and some receipts are smeared
because it rained on Wednesday
and he was hurrying—somewhere—
and carried no umbrella.
He has friends everywhere:
at the bank, in the office, the man
who supplies the parking stubs
at Lambert International Airport.
They will vouch for him
or they will laugh—
you are insane. Do you know
how much he loves you?
A question answering a question
is often a lie. She knows this.
She knows the way he takes
his coffee, in love
or not in love, always the same.
Two sugars and a splash
of cream. Usually he waits
and drinks it lukewarm,
texting his mother of the weather
in Des Moines.
Whatever might be gained
through intrigue she pursues:
whatever could be known
of whereabouts or whys,
the morning he was late
to his son’s recital.
Past the horrifying blasts of orange
inside the Florida sky,
I took the more horrifying home
inside my winter coat.
Maybe a sentence I overheard
from the smoky teachers’ lounge:
“America does fail.” At twelve,
failure was a foreign word. America
was me, so America succeeds,
and the Soviets were dying. I knew
prosperity, only, banana splits
and pizza on a Friday night.
The A-Team. I watched the 6:30 news
with my father and believed
America gets what America wants—
the moon, outer space, The Wall
to crumble. Reagan was confident
and full of righteous fury.
This shouldn’t happen. I imagined
their bones and skin being
thrashed by the heat, their helmets
like terrible, tiny planets
dropping to the ocean. Gravity:
that patient, scientific bitch.
Nobody said this, but I heard
the words inside my head and sighed.
She was a teacher; she had students
just like me, a father, a mother
just like mine. Her dark curls
succumbed to white-hot flame.
That night I asked my father
if they’d suffered, if they’d known
the closeness of death and felt it.
He stirred his coffee and turned away.
I would not see him cry again until
the morning of his mother’s funeral.
Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, recently The Maine Review and The Hawai’i Review. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Boon recently edited a volume on the sublime in American cultural studies.