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Uzunburun by Sassan Tabatabai
December 2011
price: $10.95
paper binding
Preview poems from the collection:
Caspian Summer
from Uzunburun // by Sassan Tabatabai

See how tall Damavand stands,
its head held high above the clouds.
It is silver haired even in this green season.
The sun reflects off the tangled locks
that fall on the mountain's
broad, colorless shoulders.

Damavand had been like this
long before you and I
first looked up at its heights.

Snow clings to the summit's every rise and fold
like an old man's wrinkled face,
lined by the contours of age:
strong, northern features,
angular nose and sunken eyes
that seem to squint under the sun
and swell with tears;
tears that slowly drip and at times,
with a flashing wink,
catch a fleeting ray.

Soon, quiet streams
will roll down the snowy face and rocky bosom
through deliberate lines
carved long ago.
They follow their own ancient routes
to a calm, expectant pool,
join and gather force
before tumbling toward
the valley below
that lies cradled in shadows.

And at the mountain's foot,
                    the Caspian
— this giant lake, this gentle sea —
awaits the rushing waters to feed its depths.
There, hidden from our eyes
suckles the surgeon, queen Uzunburun,
blessed with the gift of laying golden eggs.

Unlike you and me who watch from afar,
her fate lies in the weathered hands
of the old fisherman
who slowly drags his net,
taut with the Caspian's riches,
onto the unyielding sand.
And with it, the sturgeon
is drawn to the edge of her world.

She breaks the surface
to a place rounded at the edges,
and with a silent gasp
pumps her gills with inaccessible air.
Suddenly aware of her own weight,
she strains to return to the cool depths of home
and lay her golden eggs,
which now belong neither to herself
nor to the fisherman.

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