Sheema Kalbasi

Sheema Kalbasi is an award-winning Iranian-born poet, a human rights activist, a literary translator, the Director of Dialogue of Nations through Poetry in Translation, the Director of Poetry of the Iranian Women Project, and a passionate and outspoken defender of ethnic and religious minority rights. She writes of love, loss, exile, and brave women who protect their children and defuse hate through their very existence. Kalbasi lives in the U.S. now, but honors her Iranian heritage.

I am a woman

by Sheema Kalbasi with Roger Humes

I am woman
coming from the desert
coming from the long line of tribes
coming from the long line of faiths

They called me mad
They chained me to the wall naked
yet I broke free the bonds
and ran through the pain of my existence
in search of the innocence that was denied me
and they called me mad
and they called me the evil spawn of Satan
yet I broke free the bonds
and ran towards our freedom
where I knelt
before the Mother and the Son
and I called them Salvation
and they named me Nation
and I tore loose the chains of captivity
only to fall once more into bondage
when I was raped by a Mongol
married a Jew
gave birth to a Muslim
watched the child convert to Buddhism
watched the child marry a Bahai
live as a Christian
die as a Hindu

I am a woman
I am the river
I am the sky
I am the clouded covered trees upon the mountain
I am the fertile earth whose song the plants drink deep
I am the long line of tribes
I am the long line of faiths

Don't try to convert me
into something I am not
for I am already all
that humanity will ever be