Many years ago I lived in Iran. I learnt how to bargain so merchants believed me when I said this city is my home. I watched foreign women married to local men withstand the desert sun to salute the Shah and his Empress. I listened to students reciting Ferdowsi, Hafez, Saadi as they paced our street.
When I returned years later there were Tehran University banners with my name, date, time, lecture title. My first task was to not show my hair; one strand can fill a man with lust. My second task was to remember not to shake hands with the men who greeted me. My third task was not to ask questions about the forthcoming presidential election.
At home, I listen to reports of people filling Tehran’s streets looking for their lost votes. People wearing green scarves, green ribbons, green shawls: symbols of their revolution. People I might know: professors, students, friends.
I read about Neda Agha-Soltan, her music teacher, many, many others defying the Ayatollah, about the tear gas, the bullets. How Neda’s blood soaked a Tehran street. How Neda looked into Emad’s camera-phone, the image of her suffrage digitised.
I board the train at Waterloo, squeezing in with strangers.
A plugged-in lad breathes angry silence as his legs
are grazed by hamburger gripped in a petite fist.
Bodies stiffen at her Mother’s ignored apology.
By Bermondsey the juice on his thighs has dried,
a stiletto tall woman offers Mum a seat,
she enjoys her supper, comforts her papoosed baby.
Between Canada Water and Canary Wharf the floor
is littered with half a chip, ketchuped tissues,
the cellophane wrappings from a straw and the child
legs outstretched offering up undone laces,
unknown fingers reaching to fasten double knots.
Marilyn writes (and reads) when travelling, during still moments at home in England and France, recalling a childhood in New Zealand and years living in Iran. She tweets @trywords and blogs at glowwormcreative.blogspot.co.uk