The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Scattered Arils by Dena Rod

This selection, chosen by guest curator Sarah Clark, is from Scattered Arils by Dena Rod, released by Milk & Cake Press in 2021. 

black and white

there’s a photograph in black and white
its edges are curled yellow with age
found in a family album, buried
underneath baby pictures of me weeping on green grass,
my father leaning over coals with skewers of meat.
an outlier, the sore thumb in the kodak printed
costco issue catalogue of my childhood.

there are women holding cocktails
wearing little black dresses, laughing
dancing, dark kohl smudged around their eyes
hair bedecked and beehived.

differing only slightly
from the transgressions of my own youth
with martini glasses in hand,
young and somewhere looking free.

in kojah eh? topped my tongue.
                                                where is this?
when, my dad said.
                                    before the revolution.
iran in the sixties i would hear people speak
longingly about that mythical time,
i didn’t know
much less the after
of a country where my roots
were buried deep.

this iran was new to me,
only knowing the iran veiled
from me and the west, locked
away in hiding. not brazenly
smoking a cigarette in a bar
cocktail in hand.

my father didn’t tell me
who these women were,
whether they were alive,
our blood.

i still don’t know. but there’s a photograph, a window
into what happened to my parents,
what they had lost in their country
before the revolution.

Dena Rod is a queer Iranian American poet and essayist who focuses on illuminating their diasporic experiences. Described by The Bold Italic as a “verbose advocate,” they’ve been widely published in literary journals and anthologies such as The Rumpus, My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora, and Butter Press. In 2020, they debuted the chapbook swallow a beginning and toured with RADAR Production’s Sister Spit. Scattered Arils is their first poetry collection.

Sarah Clark is a disabled non-binary Native (Nanticoke) editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief of beestung, Editor-in-Chief at ANMLY, Co-Editor at Bettering American Poetry, a Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology, and a member of Sundress Press’s Board of Directors.


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