by Khalil Reza (1932-1994 )

(Lefortovo Prison, March 1990)

Today again the ones
investigating the crime gathered.
They have already prepared the camera with its red shoulder straps
To take my photo-head and profile.

The photographer peered beneath the black cloth
and wiped his eyes,
Focusing all his attention on me.

He pushed the button and said,
"Your photo is ready."

"And now we have to take your handprints," they said.
I replied in my heart: "Here you are.
I'm ready, you scoundrel."
And I rolled up the sleeves of my shirt.
He spread black ink on my white hands and ordered:
"Press your hands against this white paper!"
He took them like a skilled photographer,
My handprints.

The lines on my palm
Spread out and cross like railroad tracks.
Probably trains pass by on my palm,
Probably an airport is located on it.

"Here's the soap and hot water
Wash your hands, wash them clean!"

The soap is rose water
The water is hot,
And my palms, the spring sky
I washed the ink off my hands.

"Hands behind your back,"
ordered the guard accompanying me.
I went and laid down on my bed my hands behind my back.
Khalil Reza, you're a criminal!
You can't run any more!

Lanky bald fellow is always strict and quick,
He copied everything from my little finger to my thumb.

I look at my hands anxiously while lying on my bed
In whom can I confide about the trouble of my hands?

My hands are a planet
One is the right hemisphere;
The other, the left.

I look at my hands,
They aren't precious gems,
Nor are they gold.
These hands just write,
They hew stones and labor hard.
They are as powerful as the cosmic might
Circling around the moon and Mars
On their way to Jupiter.

These hands have never killed a single creature,
Never stolen anything, nor complained.
But they've cut sharp cliffs both in water and in earth.
They've produced thunder from clouds, treasures from stone.

You blind invader, now you open your hands,
And tell what you've done.
You've sent armies to occupy my land,
You've entered forcefully to a sacred country.
In the name of Liberation, you've brought slavery.
Lowering my flag, you've raised yours,
Fabricated from blood and poison.
You've turned my sap and honey into poison
You've exiled and condemned to death my fearless grandfathers.
Open your hand and let's see
Who the criminal is.
And who are the innocent ones in this world?
Is that a hand or a claw?

You've brought immense troubles to a little country.
You've destroyed this country,
home by home, village by village.
You've even taken the wool
from my blankets at home.
You've changed my alphabet
to change my direction.
The faces of our beautiful girls have turned pale,
Working all day for you in the fields.
You've sucked my oceans of oil, drop by drop through my lips.
You've caused my broad-shouldered heroes to die in war.
You've fed me with oilcakes
While carrying off the oranges, apples and lemons from my gardens.
The cotton you've stolen from me
Could cover the Milky Way.
The silk threads you've stolen
Could encircle the Equator.

You've robbed Ardabil, you've destroyed Tabriz.
You've ransacked their treasures
Open your palm and let us see.
Who is righteous person and who is the thief?
Hey, you criminal of the planet
Who has invaded the lands
From Astara to Tallin , From Chukotka to Elba ,
Come closer if you're not paralyzed!
Let us see whose hands have created and built
And whose are soaked in blood up to the elbows!

Translated by Aytan Aliyeva and Aynura Huseinova

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