BY ELAHEH FARMAND.
makes blackberry jam,
a perfect match with
Persian bread and cream
in our summer, sun-lit
In her kitchen, my mother
is decisive; she is baker,
her secrets are safe here.
I recall her,
hosing down the entire kitchen,
from cabinet to cabinet, floor to ceiling
the marble sparkles white,
every item in order – her spices, her special
Saffron, the jewel in Persian cooking
My mother keeps a tidy kitchen.
This is my mother in childhood
where she secretly dreams of America
as she cooks and cleans,
she reimagines herself
a free woman
this is her American Dream.
I used to imagine that we never left Iran
because then I could hold on to my mother’s image
in our spotless Tehran kitchen, spreading jam on my bread,
looking out the small window in the corner by the sink,
toward the Alborz mountains hiding behind
the neighbor’s new high-rise.
I could hold on to the life we knew then
before we broke up as a family,
before we crossed oceans,
before “immigrant” became our status.
But what good would have come
of an image that wasn’t true,
my mother’s dreams stifled and abandoned
my future – what future in a land that forbids you to dream?
We did leave Iran,
and my mother was reborn
her dreams rekindled
and we never went back
to our Tehran kitchen,
which was later sold
Elaheh Farmand immigrated to the U.S. when she was 11 years-old, leaving her birth country of Iran. In 2016, she founded Immigrants & Exile, a performance series that invites artists from all disciplines and backgrounds to share their stories of immigration, nostalgia, longing, and exile. Elaheh's poetry and prose have also appeared in Left Turn. You can follow her on Instagram @immigrantsandexile