Rebecca Ruth Gould: “Signless Sky”

Signless Sky

For Khaqani (d. 1199), prison poet of Shirvan

Ever since I was a child,
I loved to stare at the stars.
Before I could trace the Pleiades,
I wanted to be an astronomer.

I learned to decipher the skies:
Perseus, Aquarius, Scorpio,
& Hercules gave me a compass
to navigate the heavens.

Khaqani,the Persian necromancer
who fancied himself a god.
taught me to read
the signs of fate inscribed above.

My childhood cosmos
rearranged Greek fantasies.
You read the signs of the Ka’ba
from your prison cell.

When the sky was stripped
of signs & my gods died,
our visions became one.
Khaqani, my troubadour.

Now, when I gaze upwards
at midnight, the signless sky
gazes back at me with your artful,
ineffable, incarcerated sighs.


Rebecca Ruth Gould‘s poems and translations have appeared in Nimrod, Kenyon Review, Tin House, The Hudson Review, Waxwing, Wasafiri, and Poetry Wales. She translates from Persian, Russian, and Georgian, and has translated books such as After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems, by 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 (with Kayvan Tahmasebian) for Lunch Ticket’s Gabo Prize (2017).

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