You learn to cross borders with two red passports when one gets an angry goodbye stamped on its last page and the other scanned— with a resentful pause—. on the first page, why I stayed for three months in the Middle East? I don't know sir, but it was this urge to vanish in a sun-warmed mountain whose rigid peaks sharpen memories of a home lost on the way from Tehran to Sheffield, I am a good-enough-citizen, but it doesn't matter, insecure griefs cross unnoticed by the immigration officer, You learn to cross from one alphabet to another when you misread signs in a land so solid you can't imagine, you run out of oxygen, your mouth swallows sand in each aphasic leap to open a crack, in each nocturnal move to reach there, the tip of your tongue gets warm, it's still warm like a newly rejected organ in a disloyal body, it's a part of the malady they might say, but it doesn't matter, you will understand home and dignity don't cross hand in hand. I suppose crossing from one home to another means unzipping the same oceans, inhabiting the same frame hearing the same mispronunciation of your name veering the city in the direction of the same mother tasting the same rain that blurs the Art tower, unpacking the same suitcase, watering half-dead plants, stroking pillows and leaving the rest to the same dreams that shift the borders between my eyes and your hands, If you could tell me about the moments I missed, about different buildings and trees about the songs that I could put on repeat, about the souvenirs of your trip, perhaps I could tell you about my fear of losing people, things, that don't even belong to me, I know you never will but I wish you did because crossing needs a bit of seduction, a bit of deviation, it needs a bit of self-deception to cross the saddest roads that leads to everything , to the wrong intention that stabs the centre, but it doesn't matter, one can stay numb and conscious at the same time in the in-between.

Shirin Teifouri