Anis Mojgani – ‘To Where the Trees Grow Tall’

By Button Poetry

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[Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:02
(birds chirping)
00:06
When you’re in your coffin, clanging down the river,
00:10
with all the other coffins in the water of the next world,
00:13
all of them bumping and jostling against one another,
00:16
the contents thrown about, like riding in a small plane,
00:20
you’ll peek your head up to see what the racket is.
00:23
You’ll see the other coffins.
00:25
Looking around, you’ll see nothing but coffins and river,
00:29
and two banks distantly flanking the river,
00:32
and the biggest, tallest dark stretching above.
00:35
So dark it feels like this place, big as it is,
00:38
must be inside some sort of bigger place.
00:41
♪ (slow music) ♪
00:42
There’s still stars, though.
00:43
Wherever this river is, you can still see stars.
00:47
And while looking around, you’ll see that there are other heads
00:50
peeking out of their coffins.
00:52
You yell across the dark, asking, “You know where we are?”
00:58
And someone will answer back,
01:00
“Nope. You?”
01:03
“Nope,” you say back.
01:06
You ask someone else, “What about you?”
01:09
“No. I wonder where this is.”
01:13
And someone else will say,
01:15
“I don’t know, but it’s big.”
01:18
And someone else, “Yeah, it’s vast.”
01:22
And someone else, depending on what part of the river you’re in, may say,
01:26
“Yeah, vast like the backside of Sean Brown.”
01:32
And even though no one on the river knows who Sean Brown is,
01:35
everyone on the river will laugh.
01:38
The chuckles will subside until the quiet sets in over the laughter,
01:43
a quiet like you sat down in somebody else’s church.
01:47
And somebody will then ask somebody else, “Where are you from?”
01:51
And they will say, “Texas. What about you?”
01:56
“Boston.”
01:57
“Boston?”
01:59
“Yeah, Boston.”
02:01
“I know someone from Boston. Kate Leigh. You know her?”
02:07
“No.”
02:08
“What about Stephen Ellis?”
02:12
“I’m actually in Somerville.”
02:14
“Somerville?”
02:15
“Yeah, Somerville.”
02:17
And someone else will then yell out,
02:19
“Somerville? I know someone in Somerville.”
02:23
“Who?”
02:24
“Nick Kathkart. Know him?”
02:26
“I do! I do, actually! I do know him!”
02:30
– “Yeah?” – “Yeah!”
02:32
“Oh, man, small world. Yeah. Nicky is a great guy.”
02:35
“He is. I hadn’t seen him in five or ten years,
02:38
and when I did, he had a first edition of an E.E. Cummings book to give me.
02:42
Great guy.”
02:44
And the first person probably won’t know who E.E. Cummings is
02:48
but will still agree that, yes, Nicky is a great guy.
02:53
And then it will get quiet again until someone else asks,
02:57
“Where is it that we are?”
03:00
And no one will answer.
03:02
A few people shrug.
03:04
All of you will look into the stars that are collecting overhead,
03:08
will try to think of someone you might know
03:10
that lives in Somerville or Texas, or Florida, or France,
03:14
just to have something to talk about with a person you never met before
03:18
just right now,
03:20
just to share something in the dark quiet,
03:22
even though all of you are already sharing the river
03:25
and the sound of the current bumping all of you into one another.
03:29
And you wonder where the water is taking you
03:32
and how long it will be before it brings you there
03:35
and what “there” will be like,
03:37
if it’ll be like here on the river, with all of us sitting in our boxes,
03:43
trying to split the dark by sharing our voice with others,
03:48
if it’ll be like how it was in the world before this one.
03:53
♪ (slow music) ♪

This post was previously published on YouTube.

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Photo credit: Screenshot from video