Persis Karim


Devote yourself to water, its waves and tides,
ripples and stillness, and to its feel on your skin
and tickle in your nose.

Devote yourself to kissing your child’s forehead
daily, while she sleeps, and even when he’s awake
and taller than you.

Devote yourself to walking barefoot in summer
on hot pavement and in tall grass but also
to wearing heavy wool socks in winter.

Devote yourself to feeling the wind on your cheeks
or against your back, but never be afraid
it will deceive you.

Devote yourself to the taste of sour cherries
and to the ritual of eating a pomegranate
or devouring a ripe mango without a knife.

Devote yourself to the smell of coffee and
the way it satisfies and to the aroma of a rose
that makes you want more.

Devote yourself to saying a prayer for the sick
and fleeing, and those who have no place to shelter
for that could just as easily be you.

Devote yourself to listening to the sound of birds
in the morning and at nightfall, and to looking
at clouds as if they were floating art.

Devote yourself to paint and paintbrushes and the
simple impulse to make beauty even if you think
you aren’t much of an artist.

Devote yourself to daydreaming and to whispering
in your beloved’s ear when the lights are out
or when you’ve forgotten why you love her.

Devote yourself to your aging parents, and to the
elderly, whether they are your relatives or not,
and especially when they struggle to walk.

Devote your life to more than money and fame,
and to the idea that your breath on this earth
matters more than your face and your name.

0-25PERSIS KARIM is poet and editor and professor of World & Comparative Literature at San Francisco State University. She also holds the Neda Nobari Endowed Chair and serves as director of the newly-established Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals including: Callaloo, Reed Magazine, The Raven’s Perch, and The New York Times. She is the editor of three anthologies of Iranian diaspora literature and is glad to be tending to her own poetry manuscript, Accidental Architecture, which was selected a finalist for the Catamaran Review Prize in June 2019.

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