You named her Mahtab nine years ago —
I wonder if Mahtab is dead today.
(The version before Mahtab loved Eliot.
She wanted to be the Hyacinth Girl,
with wet eyes and hair).
Mahtab’s words were bubbles against the sky.
“Jor ba khair, jaan jora?”
were the calligraphy of her lips.
(For you, she painted her lips scarlet.
For you, she wore lavender in bed.)
Was she the one you called azizam?
Was she the one who said, “Doostet daram“?
For you, Mahtab dreamt of moon and stars
For you, Mahtab wore a Prussian blue scarf
For you, Mahtab cooked meat in tomato paste
For you, phrases of love rolled off her tongue
Well, Eshgeman, I still wonder if Mahtab is dead.
I now recall the soprano sound
of love shattering like a crystal glass
as Mahtab drank oceans of her own passion.
I seem to remember all of a sudden
that Mahtab kept drinking oceans of salty tears
till she drowned.
(At the time of death,
she wore lavender, loved hyacinth poetry,
and her hair was wet.)
Eshgeman, now I know Mahtab is dead.
Mahtab was too thirsty
Mahtab drank an ocean too many
Glossary for Mahtab (Farsi/Dari)
Jor ba khair/jan jora — How are you? Is everything fine?
Azizam — sweetheart
Dibunatam — crazy for you
Doostet daram — I love you
Eshgeman — my love
Noshjan — may your soul be satisfied (usually said to a person who is about to eat or drink)
Mahtab — moonlight
Jagari Mukherjee is currently pursuing her PhD in English from Seacom Skills University, Bolpur, India. She is a Best of the Net 2018 nominee, a Bear River 2018 alumna, and has won, among other prizes, the Poeisis Award For Excellence in Poetry 2019. Her first chapbook, Between Pages, is forthcoming this year by Cherry-House Press, Illinois, USA.