Once, I went with the wolf to the desert
to take back honey from the bear
but in town my two eyes counted
only for one. At school
the only colours allowed
were black, brown, navy or grey.
To make a Muslim of me,
they hid me in a chador.
No matter how many holy verses
they made my mouth express,
no prayers found their God.
I did not capitulate;
with the heat of my eyes
I incinerated the gates of Hell!
When I was seven, to console my
tears for the forbidden colours,
my grandmother told me
as we sat under a fig tree,
the sky is the same colour
wherever you are.
When I was twenty-eight,
I auctioned my kitchen garden
to fly to a forest,
yearning to burn.
under an azure sky.
I've found solace
now, though I stand naked,
stripped of the dour colours
I wore when the Persian sky
did not know my name​ —
though raucous sky is not kind to me,
not savvy to my skin.
Tehran was a hoarfrost
on my lips, Sydney
is a cockatoo scream in
my stateless mouth;
and the world a
Tower of Babel.
I have tried insanity,
I have taken every pill,
even the moon, I swallowed!
The ocean I swim in is blue,
but not the blue
of the Caspian.
I am the blue desert,
a pomegranate in bloom.
The broken seeds are
fragments in my mouth.
I am a memoir in blood.
The ink of all existence
is the colour of the sky
and exile is horizon without end.
Salvation beckons
like a lunar eclipse.
I have travelled the clouds
to change the sky’s mood,
but it stays
unmoved. I want to
bring the moon to the ground.
Within me
I would fashion a portable home;
wherever I go
I live nowhere.
Between the inhale
and exhale of my expatriate breath,
I ask God to lift his feet
so I can mop under my desk.
He was my prison,
but I'm always a woman
with a body in the wilderness;
not a prisoner in a tent.



This poem is in response to the photograph 'unknown' Accession No 469.2014'
by unknown photographer which is part of the Shadow catchers exhibition at Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2020.

Saba Vasefi reads 'The Portable Home' (Part 4)

Saba Vasefi reads 'The Portable Home' (Part 3)

Saba Vasefi reads 'The Portable Home' (Part 2)

Saba Vasefi reads 'The Portable Home' (Part 1)