Excerpt from Sabzeh by Katayoon Zandvakili


The following poem appears in our February 2016 digital issue. Read the rest of Sabzeh and the entire issue by downloading it.

“Sabzeh” is the term, in Farsi, for a kid who is like a blade of spring grass

Sitting on the washing machine  thinking and talking out loud

with my nanny    in Tehran     about the bones

we were going to feed Snowy, the white German Shepherd stray and her pups

on our block.

With my nanny there, warm [ … ] contemplating

the bones and the meat in the pink plastic baggies, Snowy and her eight pups


My knees bony. Her hands rough and red. In the mornings, before school,

sitting on the washing machine  thinking and talking out loud with her

about the dogs, down below.


hey Listen—I was in love with you

You ran some true white light at the beginning, yes, the smartest man I ever met—my truest shot, twin flame and all. You know how I build people up.

But then, through some trick of fate or the angels almost, you showed your hand, it unfolded …

and I could not


how you spoke to me.

99 I love you’s and one black shot straight to the heart.

Why? // So much so that I started thinking …

What happened to Tehran 1973 or four or five?

What happened to the light that was or wasn’t, all around?

To the soft canopy of trees in Darband—the air reassuring, soft—touching fingertips overhead ballerina-like?


Katayoon photoKatayoon Zandvakili’s volume of poetry, Deer Table Legs, won the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series prize, and the book’s title poem was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2000. Her work has been anthologized—American Poetry: The Next Generation, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond—and published in journals such as Rattapallax, Arte East, Bat City Review, and narrativemagazine.com. She recently completed a novel, My Beautiful Impostor: A Story of Persia, Exile and Love.

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