Two Brothers

By Majid Naficy

In Memory of Sa’id*

One morning before going to kindergarten
I walked out of the house
To watch ducks.
You were standing at the doorway
And accompanied me
With a pacifier in your mouth
And a lump in your throat.

We went to the fork
Where Fadan Waterway
Splits in two.
Sometimes our nannies Zahra and Sakineh
Washed clothes there
And took us with them.
We would lean against a boulder
In front of bubbling water from the ground
And watch other kids.
They did stone skipping on the surface of the water
And said: “Skip, skip, how many skips?”

The ducks were blowing their horns.
We told them: “You’re unclean! You’re unclean!”
They dipped their heads into the water
To cleanse themselves.
We followed them
Until the waterway
Hid behind a wall
And a gate led us to an alley.
We wanted to return
But the latch wouldn’t yield.
So we kept walking until we reached Willow Town.

There, metal ghouls
Were demolishing houses
To widen the street
And because of dust
My eyes could not see yours.

Suddenly Hassan the axman
Arrived running
Wearing a loincloth
With two clanging axes
On his back.
He stood and asked: “Pretties!
What are you doing here?”

We held each other’s hands,
Passed by demolished houses
And after much wandering
In Old Circle and the Jewish ghetto
We reached Sugar Cracker Crossroad
Which was a familiar place.

There, the house of Uncle!
There, the knocker of his door!
Surprise! Our mother opened the door.
With long hair
And open arms
How beautiful she looked.
She had stopped by
Every police station
But we came to her presence
With our own feet.

From her harsh words
The lump in your throat burst
And your pacifier fell.
But her gaze behind eyeglasses
Praised both of us.

April 21, 2020

* My younger brother Sa’id Naficy (April 30, 1954 to September 9, 1982) and his wife Fahimeh Okhovat were killed by the Khomeini regime in Tehran. The method of murder and the place of their burial are not known.