Hessom Razavi: Pantoum – ‘First Date, First تعارف’

Hessom Razavi reading Pantoum – ‘First Date, First تعارف’

A table set, wobbles chocked with smiles,
courtesy a floral rug over shyness,
yearning liquid and stirring like umber chai
tapped from the قول قول of the samovar.

Her courtesy a لوری rug over innocence
as basmati arrives, white-gold with saffron,
tap-tap of rain outside, قول قول of a samovar,
appetites fleshy as kebabs, butter dripping

on basmati, saffroned, jeweled with barberries
and plump tomato skirts, grilled red-black,
appetites long as skewers, butter dripped,
slipped between glances and crunchy lavash.

Along plump tomato skirts charred red-black
comes تعارف: her polite decline, a moment
in between glances and crunchy lavash
when she excuses herself to the ladies’.

Enter تعارف, her polite decline, a moment’s
absence that leaves him alone with two meals;
her return from the ladies’ met with excuses,
two empty platters and his sheepish grin.

An absence, a lone man and a swiped meal;
outside, spring rains sweep in, flush laneways,
rinse two empty plates, his sheepish grin and her
polite smile a لوری throw over hollow bowels.

Spring rains sweep the village, fill the lanes
and tulip fields, downpour sweet enough
for تعارف  to forgive rumbling bowels,
for fondness to float up in the canals.

Tulip fields shake, drenched enough to ripple
in circles around the kebab house,
their fondness afloat in flooded canals,
valley ululating with tongues of red tulips.


قول قول – ghul-ghul: bubbling, simmering (onomatopoeic).
لوری – Lori: from or pertaining to Lorestan Province; renowned for its tulip fields.
تعارف – ta’arof: complex form of Persian civility; can involve denying one’s real will, in deference to others; occasional source of unspoken desires, misunderstandings and comedy.

Hessom Razavi is a doctor and writer, born in Iran in 1976.  He was raised in Tehran and Karachi, speaking Farsi and Urdu, before migrating to the UK and then Australia.

His publication credits include Australian Poetry Journal, Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, Newcastle Poetry Prize and Best Australian Poems 2016.  In 2019 Hessom received the inaugural Behrouz Boochani Fellowship from Australian Book Review and the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness.

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