By Jenny Sadre-Orafai

When I miss her, I open my popout map.
I spill my face into the streets of Tehran.
I hide in Laleh Park. I read street names
aloud, like I’m reporting to someone.
I pretend I see things no one else can─
who took the Peacock Throne, how the burnt
city fell. I say Karaj like I’m telling you your future.

Today’s poem was originally published in Thrush Poetry Journal and appears here today with permission from the poet.

Jenny Sadre-Orafai is the author of four chapbooks. Her first collection Paper, Cotton, Leather will be published this fall by Press 53. Recent poetry has appeared in Redivider, Thrush Poetry Journal, PANK, Rhino, Sixth Finch, ILK, iO: A Journal of New American Poetry, and Poemeleon. Recent prose has appeared in The Rumpus, The Toast, and Delirious Hem. She is co-founding editor of Josephine Quarterly and an Associate Professor of English at Kennesaw State University.

Editor’s Note: I fell in love with today’s poem because it so intimately and distinctly tells the poet’s story, and yet, this is not her story. I have my own Karaj, and anyone who has ever loved a city that lies on the other side of the world—anyone who has ever loved a city by way of memory and longing—speaks the language of this poem. I am reminded, too, of Danusha Laméris’ beautiful poem, “Arabic,” of the ways in which love—of a language, of a people, of a place—remain with us across the span of distance and time. When Jenny Sadre-Orafai leaves us with her (killer!) end-line, I know what my future holds. I know what city waits for me on distant shores.

Want to read more by Jenny Sadre-Orafai?
Official Website
Two poems with audio in PANK
Creative nonfiction essay with audio in The Rumpus


  1. Is Karaj a cognate or does it have another~~~unimaginable~~~definition? the poem is succinctly perfect, as is Lameris’ ‘Arabic!’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s