On June 20th, 2009, Neda Agha Soltan, a 26-year-old Iranian woman and a student of philosophy who was attending a demonstration in Tehran protesting the vote-count fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was aimed at and shot in the heart by a Basiji hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. In the jittery cell phone video of a bystander who captured her murder, we hear her father wailing her name, begging her to stay, not to leave, as blood gushes from her chest and streams out of her mouth. The name Neda in Persian means “The call.”
The following poem is by Sholeh Wolpe, an Iranian-American poet residing in Los Angeles. She is the author of Rooftops of Tehran, The Scar Saloon, and Sin—Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad.
I Am Neda
Leave the Basiji bullet in my heart,
fall to prayer in my blood,
and hush, father
--I am not dead.
More light than mass,
I flood through you,
breathe with your eyes,
stand in your shoes, on the rooftops,
in the streets, march with you
in the cities and villages of our country
shouting through you, with you.
I am Neda--thunder on your tongue.