She Was Covered
In A Blanket
Along each perfumed velvety petal of a tulip,
I whisper to your mom's soul my softest and sweetest hello...
- Mandana Zandian
She was covered
in a blanket,
the room was painted orange,
the white candles were lit,
her face was peaceful, had the smile
of one who accepts that her long journey is over.
My younger brother
didn’t eat for three days,
didn’t talk, walked like a ghost.
People came. People called.
Today with three
other women I washed Maman1.
Two were Iranians - one an engineer
and the other a medical student, both students in Sufism.
The third was an Iraqi, a biologist and a Muslim.
I washed her hair with the shampoo she loved, the coconut shampoo.
I brushed her hair.
We dried her body.
We dressed her in Sufi clothing.
We covered her in the white material.
She was calm and
She was not beautiful.
Her hand was red and infected.
Her feet were swollen.
I kissed her feet.
I kissed her face.
I kissed her hands.
I kissed the body I knew so well.
I washed her like she used
to wash me when I was young.
I brought some of
for the little brother and myself, Maman.
I didn’t cut it.
It fell off your head.
Your Sufi friends told me
it would have been disrespectful if I had cut it.
I drove back with
the Iraqi lady
and got dressed in a light blue shirt and black pants
that I wanted you to see me in.
I put on my make up (I never use makeup).
I changed my shirt to a black one (went with the tradition).
I put on lipstick. I put on mascara.
You were always in makeup.
You were always clean and well dressed.
You were always so sophisticated.
Dad looks old.
Dad cries a lot.
The little brother is in pain.
The sister-in-law is in pain.
She walks in your cloths.
The European sister of mine walks
tall and beautiful in your clothing, Maman.
She took your blanket back to her country.
She took your gloves, your smell.
We drove to the graveyard.
So many people were in the church.
I was praying. I didn’t cry.
I didn’t drop one tear
So many people and
so many flowers,
we all prayed for you, men in the front
and women in the back. We all stood there
and said ‘Allah-o Akbar.’2
All your Sufi friends were shaved and wore white shirts.
It was peaceful.
It was beautiful.
So many loved you, Maman.
So many loved Banoo Mohandes Batoul Nayer, Ms. Batoul Nayer (Engineer).
Maman, when I had put you in the coffin,
I knew how you looked under the white wood
and the white roses and the white lilies
…and under all the whites
you were sleeping in your white dress
and having all the white dreams
while my cut heart wanted
to hear your voice say
how beautiful this moment was.
2God is Great