Bahareh Bisheh, "I Have a Mother...," 2012
An orphan like me wins a place in the heart of a family by carrying their stories, laying my pallet down for sleep at the entry to their vault full of secrets. “See? A little human child,” they smile, “weak and pretty as a grass stem, hardly able to carry us in the peristyle if we called her.” So they let me come near, a favored pet, to take leftovers from their hands, slowly stroke my hair, murmur soft words in the shape of flowers, of rain. And me, the orphan girl—I earn my keep by listening to these loa and others like them, their tales an aquifer, a braiding of underground streams too deep to dowse, their breath shaping songs that flow through me to you, hollow reed that I am.