The Operating System


imgresI like to believe I’ve always been a woman of culture, a student ready to learn about the world, a kid who might still believe that for as much as we are all so very different we are also so very similar and because of this we are somehow connected. I think I was carrying all that when I finally crossed paths with Middle Eastern literature. I was ready to absorb as much as I could.
It was in that emersion that I discovered Forough Farrokhzad. Born in Tehran in 1935 and killed in a car crash at the age of 32, Forough is an example of a woman of fierce force who sacrificed so much to go after exactly what she wanted simply because she understood that she was more than what others tried to limit her to be.
She risked her life. She dared to speak about the conventions of marriage. She challenged the traditional roles of women. She channeled her own struggles of a loveless marriage, divorce, and mother who had given up her son. She fought for her identity. She fought for her voice. And her voice was beautiful and honest and sincere and lyrical. What woman hasn’t struggled for her independence? What poet hasn’t fought to write? Which one of us hasn’t strained to hear our voice? When I read her poetry I become the speaker. I haven’t experienced what she has but somehow I know, somehow I understand. And it’s in that moment of clarity where I remember I’m more than what I think I am.

Forugh Farrokhzad

After all those acts of madness, ah, alas
I can’t believe that I’ve grown wise
It seems that she has died in me,
I’m so weary, so silent, so nullified

Every moment I ask the mirror in despair,
What am I, at least in your eyes?
But in the mirror I see that I am
Alas, not even a shadow of what I was

Like an Indian dancer, coquettishly
I dance, but upon my own grave
Alas, that with a hundred regrets
I’ve illuminated this ruin with my own rays

I seek not the road to the city of day
Undoubtedly, I sleep in the depths of a grave
A pearl I possess, but out of fear
In the heart of the marshes I hid it away

I walk…but I do not ask of myself
Where’s the road, the station, the destination, where?
I give kisses, but am in myself unaware
To whom this mad heart its reverence bears

When she died in me, suddenly, whatever was
In my keeping took on a new tone
It seems that night with its too cold hands
Has drawn to its side my restless soul

Ah…yes…this is me, but to what avail?
She who was in me is no more, no more
Madly I shout beneath my breath
She who was in me, who was it, after all?

Luz del Alba
The experiment, the madness
Was successful
Though I can’t be sure its goal was met
Sometimes I doubt the fact there was a goal at all
Looking into reflections has become more
Bearable though still unnerving
Brushing my teeth in the morning is frightening,
In the evening is intimidating
The medicine cabinet never had a proper purpose
Active Ingredients:
acetaminophen (paracetamol), aspirin, and caffeine
Won’t be seen the same way again
And though I question my reason
I know what it wasn’t: death
Not mine, not now, not yet
It was the farewell to what didn’t exist yet
It was the celebration of a new birth
A new soul, a new life, new risks, new mistakes
A new walk, an actual destination,
A damn, beautiful declaration, a fresh breath, a heart three times its size
When I suddenly let her go
I didn’t think twice like I usually do
I sent her off to wander without me
There’s no need for a grave for an empty soul
And…yes…she was a part of me – mind, body, heart, soul-
Yet…she was draining of any life
My companion since childhood but important no more
Irrelevant who she was…unbounded who I am…unlimited who I will be

Luz Sanchez writes: I live in Queens. I write poetry. I make books, bake deliciousness and critique films for fun. I collect old cameras. I enjoy the sound of analog. I love Peanuts comics. 
I have two Shiba Inus. I shrug; don’t know, don’t know.
Denizens of the poetry project workshops have long been familiar with Luz’s poetry and insight and are grateful for her active participation in the community. Thanks, LUZ!




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