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Orkideh Behrouzan

Orkideh Behrouzan

You blew the dust off the old Leica

Gently, you cracked open the
mahogany case, snap, your blue eyes mindful
of the click-sound that lingered in the air as
you took out the camera holding it as if it were
a fragile little bird

And then you blew

splashed dust
fears, worries, doubts

Last picture taken
in 1984, just before
missiles attacked Tehran and
I turned seven in a basement shelter where
a camera was the last thing harried grownups
would care to pack

You blew the dust off the lens

Flying dust, unimportant
silly even - you must have thought-not
seeing the sharpness of images it sketched in
my mind, nor hearing the sound of
martial anthems and birthday songs blending as
I blew seven candles on a birthday cake
The frenzy of lies and secrets and fears and
pictures we took dancing, snapshots of
life going on in hushed tones behind
shut curtains

Translating them an impossible betrayal
- immoral even

I put the empty case back in the suitcase that bears
the weight of years bygone
the smell of jasmine and cardamom and
dusty Octobers and grandma’s
prayer-beads and the voice of wandering
violinists in the quiet of

August nights by my bedroom window when
music was no longer banned and
I was the girl who wrote poems and made love to
the splendor of calligraphied words marching right
to left

The warmth of
pictures untaken, a home
all boxed in a mahogany case I hid all these years
in a suitcase

Until now

You blew the dust off the old Leica

Look ahead! Your blue eyes brighten as I peak
through the lens inviting
stories of a thousand and one journeys

Framed in rays of sun I can
see with one eye shut the thin
laughter line along your eyelid
almost invisible, there
for a fraction of a second

LEICA was originally published in FRONTIERS:

Orkideh Behrouzan is a physician and medical anthropologist based in London. A bilingual author and poet in Persian and English, she is the author of Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran (2016, Stanford University Press). Her ethnographically informed creative writing has been published in journals including Consequence and Frontiers and adapted to the theatre stage in the UK. She teaches at SOAS University of London and is a member of  OtherwiseMag Editorial collective.

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