On Leaving Iran (Rebecca Ruth Gould)

The plane ascends. Women disrobe,
crossing into Turkey’s airspace.
Their hair cascades like waterfalls.
I lift my skirt to let my legs breathe.

So much sin is compressed
between my teeth & my toes!
I stride over the pavement.
The wind runs through my hair.

I am happy to unveil—
for myself rather than a male guardian—
to return to my body,
to desire myself for myself,

in this corner of the cockpit
poised between two countries,
without male eyes
watching over me.


Rebecca Ruth Gould is the author of the poetry collection Cityscapes (Alien Buddha Press, 2019) and the award-winning monograph Writers & Rebels (Yale University Press). She has translated many books from Persian and Georgian, including After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems of Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and The Death of Bagrat Zakharych and other Stories by Vazha-Pshavela (Paper & Ink, 2019). A Pushcart Prize nominee, she was a finalist for the Luminaire Award for Best Poetry (2017) and for Lunch Ticket’s Gabo Prize (2017).