I will never be American enough
for this country but as Farsi bubbles
then dissolves in my throat only
to be replaced with guttural English
I guess I am not Iranian enough
for Tehran either

my father always told me
in Tehran you see how the mountains
hug the outskirts of the city
and the tributaries of three
different rivers once met
at the epicenter of a grand plaza
back in Ancient Persia
it is a city where the wind is cultivated
in the mountains and then
tainted with dust pollution from
the western deserts and car exhaust
men crowd along the side streets
like worker bees in the spring
breathing in the ashy air as the
queen bees flit past under the hazy sun

when he speaks of the capital
he hasn’t seen in eighteen years
I see how his eyes are kaleidoscopes
searching for the beauty and elegance
in a nation that has been tarred
and feathered by the West
I see how he desperately clings
to the belief everything has good inside
we just need to look for it
and dig our scalpels past the surface

Iran is my home, he says, and I will never
forget it, but you, my daughter,
shall visit for me when I am dead.

I will probably never visit Tehran
but in my mind’s eye
Tehran has become more familiar
than America has ever been to me



Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a recent graduate from Carver Center for Arts and Technology’s literary arts program. Her debut poetry collection, tributaries, was released in March 2018. She is a two-time Scholastic National Medalist and a 2018 recipient of the Civic Expression Award for poetry. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, she attends university at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. 

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