Bahaar Ahsan

condolence theatre

the ritual carries with it a sense of grandeur, extravagance even
more sincere than spectacle and yet presenting a reality heightened enough to pose a disruption
to the city’s usual order

a man in a gold helmet with two large green feathers on the top mounts a large white horse
it must be a man and he must wear a green feather
the other details are inconsequential

in a different city square in a different time and a different land my sister hands me a candle at
the vigil
and a different kind of spectator watches a different kind of performance with less grandeur but a
similar sincerity

scale is a question not easily grappled with
40,000 in Khoramshahr in one day alone, 23 of us in this country last year
it was not the imam but the coroner who declared a universality of death
an abstraction of one body into another into another

witnessing the reenactment places both the citydwellers
and the band of sisters in communion with their mythical subconscious
to reenact is to make sacred a space otherwise pedestrian, impersonal
a body gone is a body remythologized

it is permissible to use a camel in place of a horse or a silver helmet in place of a gold one
but it must be a man and he must wear a green feather


exercises in diasporic simulacra

all of my relationships are mediated by commodity
i only feel sad about it sometimes

to trace a genealogy of sisterhood would be as unfruitful as it would be exhausting
an email from my mother with the subject line Salaam reads
Are you coming home next weekend?
By the way, have you heard this song about Spring. It was very popular soon after the

golden prunes are a good substitute if you can’t find the real ones

i call khaled and ask if i can spend the night
we both decorate our rooms with suboptical reminders of our own mortality

i place the glass tea set and kettle in my kitchen to remind myself that home is not only tangible
and tactile but also collectible
a carpet once told me that i am only here because somebody else isn’t

BAHAAR AHSAN is a writer, student, performer, and community member based in the Bay Area, with roots in the South of Iran. She studies Persian Literature and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Grappling with ideas of history, embodiment, migration, and mourning, Bahaar’s work aims to interrogate ontologies which separate the ideological from the somatic, the aural from the visual, rage from softness, homeland from host-land, past from present from future. Her writing was published in the anthology Tender (Foglifter Press, 2018).