December 8, 2021
By Leila Ruser
Her country said goodbye in the form of a gutted stuffed animal on the airport conveyor belt.
There are bits of it sewn into the Persian rugs and tacked onto the walls here,
Bits of it float in her voice when she talks on the phone:
“Salaam, Azizam” and 6,041 miles of uncuttable string.
When she gives birth, bits of it will shape the eyes of her daughters and blacken their hair
It will stain their fingertips red with crushed pomegranate seeds and split them down the middle, afloat in snowy suburbia.
Jagged pieces of it will fall out of her mouth when she tells the story of Parisa
Arrested for mascara and nail polish
Or of her pregnant cousin, murdered by the regime at 21
6,041 miles of uncuttable string and 37 years
Are not enough to sew the stuffing back in.