Breast Cancer

A poem by Ali Asadollahi

Didn’t I tell you not to take it seriously?

Didn’t I tell you to put your hands in those torn pockets sometimes?


For something in that old raincoat’s lining

For something under the rugs

Under your eyelid – with lashes behind –

Under the iris – as it’s cut by a paper –


Keep calm darling, keep calm

– It’s a paper, not a knife; once it is wet, it never cuts –

Keep calm darling, keep calm

Something will be found

Something before the cleavers reach the lambs’ sternum

Something before two malignant breasts, on the butcher block

Before blood, seeping out from a freezer bag on the kitchen table:

– 700 grams of me. Adios.

Then you hit the streets and laughed

With stitches

With the red edge of a paper

With the eyelid you must put your finger underneath,

to scrape off last days’ sediments by nail


I’m scared of blood

I’m afraid of peeling the skin off muscles

Should become a vegetarian

Should settle at Garden of Eden, picking apples

Should drink out of golden goblets all through the night

Such that wine rivers take my plastered corpse home,

beyond the sewer hatch

Since it’s the decisive deceivers’ fate

Since as they were throwing your leftovers in the meat grinder, we had to smile

Without letting the fabric pieces, you would stuff in your bra, stick out from our mouths

From our faces’ grooves

Half of my hands were holding your hands

The other half were rotting, in the kitchen, in the heat

And the flies were spawning their tiny pearls into my wounds and mourning

As if they came

From a meat slicer machine

From julienning the lumps

Half of my eyes weren’t fit in the socket

The other half turned back, spinning in my shattered mind:

Keep calm darling, keep calm

We shall find eternal paradise

We shall have grapes and honey instead of limbs

Come and baptize your body in blessed water

Laugh and put fig leaves on your gashes.

Ali Asadollahi was born in 1987 in Tehran, Iran. He became interested in poetry in 2003, and since then he has devoted his time to poetry. His first book, A to Z, was published in 2010. In one of the most reputable Persian literary magazines of the time, the book was praised as “Best Young Poetry Book of the Year.” To date, he has published five poetry books. His latest book, The Coco’s Tale, was nominated for the prestigious Iranian poetry book prize, the Ahmad Shamlou award, in 2019, but he withdrew in protest of the severe censorship of books in Iran. Ali Asadollahi is currently researching ways to create Persian dramatic poetry.

ARTWORK: “Stone, Leaf, Soil” 1976), 80×120 cm. by renowned Iranian painter Iran Darroudi (b. 1936)

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