First Veil by Julia Older

First Veil

I pulled the chador
down over my forehead
and took a step.
It slipped back.
I pulled it down
and tucked the corner
into my waistband.
Again it slipped.
I pulled it down
over my forehead,
pinning it in place
with one palm
under my chin.
It slipped over
one shoulder
showing my dress.
Quickly, I pulled it back.
But it gaped open
and fell down
over one shoulder.
I pulled the chador down
over my forehead.
Holding it down
with one palm
I held the edge
in my teeth.
Thus, I was to speak
to the learnéd men.

Julia Older is wearing her “First Veil” poem on the cover of Tahirih Unveiled (Turning Point Books, 2007), a novel-in-verse about early poet and women’s rights activist Tahirih of Persia. For a collaboration, NH linguist and fabric artist Rachel Lehr took a veil-length piece of her hand-dyed silk and Older’s poem to her Afghan Handwork Collective in Kabul; it returned a masterpiece embroidered in silver and gold. You can hear an audio clip of Julia reading Tahirih” from this award-winning collection (Independent Publisher 2008 Bronze Poetry Medal) and find other books by Older at http://www.appledorebooks.com/. Since Older co-walked and authored her first book about the Appalachian Trail with MacDowell Fellow novelist-photographer Steve Sherman, she has written full time in the foothills of Grand Monadnock.

Poem appears in Connecticut Review 2004, Tahirih Unveiled (Turning Point Books, 2007.) Poem and photo used here with the permission of the poet. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a tragic, touching and inspiring commentary on the life of this heroic woman--and all those others whose voices have been squelched by male managed cultures. Thank you for introducing me to Tahirih through your moving poem.