I hope you are all well and keeping safe. Today’s post is going to be quite different from my usual posts. Last week, my husband contracted Covid-19, and a few days later, I too began to show signs of having caught the virus. As I am sure you can imagine, the last few days have been very difficult as my husband and I have been dealing with the disease, trying our best to keep away from our two young daughters while still making sure they’re fed and their needs are met, and reassuring our parents (via non-stop phone calls) that we are going to be okay. At the same time, the fear that there is a chance that one or both of us will not make it lingers in the back of our minds, even though neither of us is willing to say it out loud. Two nights ago, my husband’s condition worsened and I had to call for an ambulance in the middle of the night. I will not get into details of the fear I experienced, but let me just say I would not wish it on anyone. Fortunately, he is a little better now and is resting at home. We do not know what is next and the uncertainty is itself a huge burden. But still, I am grateful that we are together during this ordeal and I am hopeful that we will be healthy again.
Now, the reason I shared this was not to upset you, dear friends. In fact, I wanted to share with you a beautiful poem that has been a comfort to me during these days. This poem, called “The Water’s Footsteps” is by an Iranian poet named Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980). Sepehri, beside being an amazing poet, was also a painter. These are a couple of his paintings.
As a young girl, growing up in Iran, I used to read Sepehri’s poems so often that I knew most of them by heart. This particular poem has always been a favourite of mine, but during the last few days, it has taken on a deeper meaning for me. I know every story and every poem is more beautiful and meaningful in its original language, but I was glad to find it translated to English and wanted to share it with you. It is quite a long poem, so I will not share it all, only the parts where he talks about life and death and why we are here on earth.
This is where he describes life:
Life is a pleasant rite.
Life is covered by feathers and wings,
Growing as vast as the silhouette of death.
Life has leaps as high as the summit of love.
Life is not something that you and I can forget,
on the obscure shelf of habits.
Life is a grasping hand that picks,
Life is the taste of the first harvest of figs,
In the bitter mouth of summer.
Life is the depth of trees in the eyes of insects,
Life is the adventures of a moth in the darkened air,
Life is the strange sense of a migrating bird.
Life is a train’s siren
piercing into the dreams of a bridge.
Life is seeing the glow of a garden,
from a barred window of a plane.
Life is the news of going to space,
Landing and sensing the loneliness of the moon,
Life is the thought of smelling flowers,
on the soil of another planet.
Life is washing a stained dish.
Life is finding a dime in the street gutter,
Life is the square root of the mirror,
Life is a flower to the power of infinity,
Life is the pulse of the earth in the poundings of our hearts,
Life is the simple geometry of breathing.
Wherever I live, it does not matter, I will be there,
I will always own the sky,
The window, thought, air, love and earth are mine.
So, what does is matter,
If from time to time,
The exiled fungus of solitude may grow all around?
In another part, he talks about death:
And let us not fear death,
Death is not the end of a dove’s flight,
Death is not the reversal of a journey,
Death flows in the mind of acacias,
Death lives in the peaceful shell of our thoughts,
Death speaks of the dawn in the spirit of the darkened town,
Death may be tasted along a ripe cluster of grapes,
Death can sing in a soulful voice of the throat.
Death is behind the striking beauty of the butterflies’ wings,
Death sometimes is picking sweet basil in the herb garden nearby,
Death sometimes may be drinking vodka,
Death sometimes sits in the shade and stare at us,
And we all know that our lungs full of desire,
Are filled with the oxygen of death!
And finally he talks about our purpose in life:
Let us not close the door on our fate,
If we hear a strange noise from behind the curtains.
Let us open the curtains,
And expose our feelings to the fresh breeze,
And allow the wit freedom to sit wherever it wants,
And allow the instinct to play, even barefoot,
Along the swift course of the seasons, jumping over the flowers,
Allow the solitude to sing, to write and to wander in the street.
Let us be simple,
Let us be simple in a bank or under a tree in the park.
It is not our destiny to discover the mystery of the red rose,
It is our destiny, maybe,
To always float into the charm of the rose.
Let us camp within the intelligence,
And wash our hands in the green truth of the leaves,
And walk towards our homes.
Every sunrise, we were born,
And allowed the excitement to fly,
over the perception of space, of color, of sound and of window,
We shall damp the flowers.
Let us invite the sky to sit in the blank space between our words,
Then let us breathe the air of eternity,
Let us take the weight of intelligence off of the dove’s wings,
And lay it down on the ground.
Let us regain the words from the clouds,
From the trees, flies and the summer.
Let us climb the wetness of the rain towards the height of kindness and love,
And open the door to humanity, light, plants and insects.
Let us follow the moist Footsteps of Water to the roots of love.
Perhaps we are only meant to,
Within the lilies and the century of run,
Chase after the song of the truth.
by Sohrab Sepehri, 1964
I hope you enjoyed the poem. If you are interested, you can find the complete version online. Be well and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.