What I was missing here
All night it snowed love turned white I trampled love underfoot The forest mews tiny scraps of light sway in the trees Love covers the wound the wanting, the marks on the soul We sing out loud I and the unseen I and the wordless ∞ Everything was white when I awoke and sat at the edge of my bed I folded up my dreams and tucked them under the pillow What day are we today? Sometimes I forget to breathe Outside, day jobbers are queued up drinking Coca-Cola and eating cold bread leaning against a wall in silence Sometimes they queue up in my dreams to tell their stories
I invited the tree in for a cup of tea we both suffer when the wind is hard we do not like the darkness The tree is older than me we have so much to tell each other Sometimes I sit beneath it and press my back against its trunk I hear it singing and wrap myself with its dancing branches Ah you, beautiful aspen hold on to my secrets when I’ll be no more ∞ It was your ashes that remembered me that night I sensed how you wanted to be close I closed the doors but the smell of wet earth spread itself through the room I knew that you were dead even as I slept That morning wrapped in your housecoat I so wanted you to see me
They come in the night sometimes so numerous they trample each other The sheet twists itself into shadow the walls crumble in silence The spring in the corner is both bed and mirror It swallows the dust I rise from each corner People bewitched shut their eyes they will not see that paradise has no door
A sliver from a tree a sprig of sunlight a glass filled with earth Love stretches its veil over me I breathe through my eyelids death’s pockets are weighted with stones and I am wearing a dress made of glass Where is my home?
Note on the poems and images
Poems originally published in Swedish in Vad jag saknades här (Stockholm: Bokförlaget Lejd, 2018). English by Nicola Vulpe.
Images from the series philosophy of a tree by Gazelle Bastan (2022)
About the Poet
Jila Mossaed was only 17 when she published her first poems in Iranian literary journals. She went on to study in the United States, then write for Iranian radio and television. Her first poetry collection, The Fleet Gazelles of Memory, appeared in 1986, the same year she left Iran with her two children to seek refuge in Sweden, where she has lived since. In 1997, Mossaed published her first collection in Swedish, The Moon and the Eternal Cow. She has received numerous literary prizes in Sweden, and in 2018 she was elected to chair 15 of the Swedish Academy. Her poetry has been translated into Dutch, Greek and French, and her work has been honoured in France with both the Prix Vénus Khoury-Ghata and the Prix Max Jacob.
About the Translator
Nicola Vulpe is a Canadian poet. He has published a novella, The Extraordinary Event of Pia H., who turned to admire a chicken on the Plaza Mayor, and four collections of poetry, including Insult to the Brain and Through the Waspmouth I Drew You, which both received the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry.
About the Artist
Gazelle Bastan learned calligraphy at an early age in Iran and developed a deep interest in gilding and illumination techniques. She received her master’s degree in Art Research from Tehran University in 2013. While earning her BFA at Concordia University, she explored abstraction through painting, print and photography, focusing on the concepts of patterns and repetition. To follow Gazelle Bastan’s work, please visit her website, Instagram page (@gazellebstn) and Vimeo account.