Niloofar Fanaiyan

Within transit

Staying still when everything else is moving around you, like trying to keep your bearings on the deck of a ship in the middle of a storm, or trying to sit in the midst of a bustling crowd, or being a gear incarnate stuck at the centre of a perpetual motion machine — it is possible to remain in the same spot for too long — the flow of your blood slows, muscles begin to twitch with forgetfulness, pauses and rests lose their meaning, and the movement of melodies flat-line — even cemeteries refuse to be static — the stones change colour, cracks appear, flowers grow, bloom, wither, fade, then grow again — and in the midst of remaining still a small white butterfly floats and flutters across your peripheral vision, then alights on the curve of your left shoulder.


The whirring click of a camera shutter, one two three, cypress trees sway precariously in the gust of wintry exhale at odds with the sunshine and warm Mediterranean blue, a discordance of goose bumps and vibrant colours. Shab-e-yalda passed uneventful except for the verse of good fortune transmitted across centuries, a father's hand pressed against worn leather covers invoking Hafiz, as the long cold begins. A cruise ship passes behind the trees distracting the young woman in the mirror caught between a pale pink rose and a bloom of sunset fire. Her eyes return to the two flowers, a forking path, one life of sedate garden strolls and fine weather, or one life of unknown shadows and increasing storms. She picks up the sunset, tucks it behind her right ear, the camera shutter clicks.

After time

Head in her hands, she glances up, stares at the rain washing, washing, washing the window to a world she hides from. Where am I from, she asks the unknowable. From the earth beneath you, from the stars above, from the air you breathe, from the tears of the clouds, from vibrating strings expanding the universe. Skin of her fingertips, heat of her body; adorn the glass with soul-shaped gyrations as she leans toward the answer. Where am I from, she asks again. From your mother’s womb, from the streets of your childhood, from the school of your youth, from prison and torture, from prayer and thought. Her broken back protests the movement; reflection of an aging face. Forehead absorbs the cooler temperature; the fog from her lips whispers back, ‘then I am home’.

last night's waxing crescent

I reached into the sky and plucked a scythe from the cheek of the moon. Light bled into my fingertips, travelled along my arm, across collarbone, into my heart. I used it to cut through skin and flesh — the blood that spilled shone with moonlight, it whispered your name as it spread into a dark and thirsty earth.

Having lived in the U.S., the Netherlands, and Tanzania, Niloofar Fanaiyan currently lives in Canberra where she has recently completed a PhD in creative writing at the University of Canberra. She writes poetry and short fiction.
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