I heard God laughing the other day. It was a gift, one you open with your ears, and the closer you lean in, the more you unwrap yourself in its sound, and suddenly you are giggling together like a poem of hope and joy. Translation, for me, is a daily contemplation, wild and sweet, of the sacred voices of East and West. I spend my days and nights buried in Shiraz, entombed in the multitude of a single couplet, surrounded by a stanza of whole families, and remembered by ghazals of love songs. The spirit of my poetry is as flexible and vacillating as the Persian I speak, a language permutable to a thousand interpretations, indebted to infinite shades of meaning. It is the only way to keep cool in this Light.
A great many men have discovered the joy of rendering my words, bending the sun into their horizon in hopes of transforming their worlds. It is quite the telemetry, to realize we are the same after all this distance. Indeed, what a transmission! Perhaps the true challenge of “carrying over” a voice we cannot see is imagining our own faces in its absence, as the one freshly minted responsible for ascribing meaning. It saddens me the only frequency in tune has been that of white men: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sir William Jones, Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Daniel Ladinsky. They’ve done a dandy, a fine job, without question. But it remains incredibly limiting for a language that was meant to wear a million bodies, for my spirit to catch wind and blow across land and sea forever in a continuum of insightful currents, pulsing. What are the fractals we are not seeing, the warmth we are not feeling, and the soft whispers we are not able to hear? In order for the Pink Mosque prayer room to light up at sunrise, we must first kneel in the darkness of stained glass windows.
Start seeing everything as God, he translated.
This was when I heard her laughing.