Winter (Zemestan)

Your greetings they’ll ignore.
With their heads resting on their chests,
They seek warmth from their breasts,
None affords to lift a head to greet the guests.

Vision is limited,
The road’s dark and slick.
Your extended friendly hand is refused,
Not because they are confused;
They rather keep their hands where they are warmed.
It is frightfully cold. Do not be alarmed.

Observe your breath,
Leaving the warmth of your breast;
Turns into a dark cloud
Before it rests
On the wall before your chest.

If your breath is this unkind,
What is amiss; if
Distant and near friends,
Were to keep you out of mind?

My manly Messiah,
Uncompromising man of faith!
Winter is cowardly and cold,
You keep the words warm,
Sustain that stance bold.

Accept my greetings.
Let me in.
Your nightly guest:
The pedestrian rock,
The curse of creation,
The uneven melody.

Allow this pest, a moment of rest.
I am not from Rome or Africa.
Allow the Africans the south,
North, the Romans.
Colorblind I am,
Enough for both.

Let me in!
Let my sorrow in!
Be a good host,
To your ever-present guest,
Who shivers behind your door.
Have mercy on the poor.

There is no hail.
You may have heard a tale,
There exists no death,
Only chattering teeth and a short breath.

Tonight I intend to pay back
The account for which I lack
It is not too late
It is not midnight
There is no morning
Don’t be fooled by the dawn’s false trap.

My frozen red ears
Bespeak winter’s harsh slap.
And your universal sun
At the mercy of each breath,
Rather than your coffin
Brightens the hidden cave of death.

Dear friend, with wine,
Illumine the sight;
Night is day
Day is night.

They’ll ignore your greeting
Amid this depressing weather
Doors are shut
Heads on chests
Hands hidden,
Hopes are cruelly cut.

Trees are but
Crystalline skeletons,
The sky’s moved closer;
The land is devoid of life,
Dimmed are the sun and the moon
Winter is rife.

(Mehdi Akhavan Saless, 1928-1990)
(Translated from Persian by Iraj Bashiri )

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