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Where is the homeland?

Article by:

Elyas Alavi, Ordugah (Detention Camp), 2014, Mashad Iran, video still. Courtesy the artist.

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The homeland, a wooden table
At which we drank tea
And breathed a sigh of relief
just before the immigration police caught us.

The homeland
An old boat
Adrift on the wild tresses of the Aegean Sea
“Pray that the sea calms down
The clouds calm down
The winds calm down!”
the old captain was saying
just before we danced among the waves.

The homeland
A detention camp in Torbat-e Jam (1)
With high cement walls
With a high barbed wire fence
With long queues
Bread, a letter, shame.

The homeland
A distant café in London
Amidst fog and smoke and darkness
In which people with troubled shadows
And faded, lost eyes
Breathe bitter bitter breaths
And down their cups of sorrow.

Tall-e Siah
The homeland perhaps is a hole in al-Khalil (2)
That waits hungrily for my thirsty lips
Where is the homeland?