My Beige Bra


everything is on track according to the plan

we have kissed our wounds

and our mouths taste like the flavor of suspended metals

suspended from the mute architecture of an embrace

hanging from the continuous seam of an infinite bridge

dizzy from a sewage that swoops and circles in our head

intoxicating us with its wickedness

everything is normal my love

even now, with my back turned to the drowsy god

I sit with half-drunk eyes and a beige bra tied around my chest

you ruined me without a finger touching me

you ruined me with a thumb

beneath the mares that exist outside this bed…
outside this brown color…

in such strange ways this room gets us stoned with its brown hues

and our nostalgia captures the smell of roasted chickens
that the neighbor’s pregnant wife craves

even the comical combination of my gray pajamas

with the orange light of the candle cannot make you happy

even this shadow, who takes a bath every day

who wears perfume and theorizes while wearing shorts

and exactly seven days later, within a collective orgasm, reads
the congregational prayer with you

how ironic… the hole in the turban of our Friday prayer leader
signifies the void in this religion

and our timid shadows seeks forgiveness from the Imam of Our Time

                                   “oh, forgive me, I was a bad-mannered nursling”

the universe’s milk is getting sucked out of my godlessness

and you are pouring light on my breasts… so that I could lick
my sunlit wounds

                                   “forgive me for butchering my over-used hymen with that Islamic knife
                                    you carried in your left pocket’’

so that I could trace the light leaking on my legs over
over and over again

so that you could bring your head next to my belly button
to speak about everything you needed to get off your chest:

                     wicked women are for wicked men, and wicked men are for wicked women
                    and virtuous women are for virtuous men, and virtuous men are for virtuous women [1]

everything is on track according to the plan

only the Moses’ cane has turned me into a penguin

and my interior doesn’t signal well

when I open my legs its signals encounter your mustache

that which is spread out with shaving cream and mixed with blood in the bathroom sink

we have timid shadows, and the color red makes us weak
and the brown colored curtain gets us high

we seek refuge in each other’s arms and worship the one and only God

everything is on track my love

only the Moses’ cane is erect within me
in order to trouble me


[1] The Quran: An-Nur, 24:26

Translator’s Note

Maral Taheri is a remarkable poet, and though she hasn't published a book due to her refusal to abide by the censorship laws in Iran and Afghanistan, her journal and social media publications are widely read and celebrated. Taheri's poems are uncanny in their narration of femininity in a time when political violence and misogyny have destroyed all that there’s to home. Taheri’s verse connects memories of love, sex, and war with intertextual references to Islamic theological texts. Some of her juxtapositions emerge from her personal experiences, while others are informed by her readings of Western literature and philosophy. She writes dystopian poems by thematizing self-destruction and suggesting that suicide in the poem is the only way through which she can arrive at self-autonomy and ingenuity. Taheri has lived most of her life in Iran but just moved to France.

Maral Taheri is a poet from Afghanistan born in 1984 in Iran, where she studied and taught French language and literature. Her poems have been published in various magazines, books, and websites, but due to political and social circumstances in Iran and Afghanistan, she wasn't granted a "publication permit" and wasn't interested in censoring her work. As an activist, she was involved in women's rights movements in Iran and Afghanistan, working with independent and non-profit campaigns. In the aftermath of the fall of Kabul, and due to social and political pressures resulting from the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, she left Iran and is now based in France to pursue her political asylum.

Hajar Hussaini is a poet and translator. Hussaini’s first poetry collection is Disbound (University of Iowa Press, 2022). Her long titular poem is available through Daedalus, the open-access journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Poetry Foundation published her poetic statement on Disbound. Hussaini's proposal for the Persian-language novel Death and its Brother (2017) by Khosraw Mani was an honorable mention for the Mo Habib Translation Prize awarded by the University of Washington in Seattle. Hussaini's translations have been published and/or forthcoming from Asymptote, Los Angeles Review, and Adi Magazine