Border Control

We cross a map’s line, and this is the pilot speaking: We are entering Iran Air.


From purses teenagers unpack floral-print scarves and tuck their sisters’ hairs behind linen borders.


When we land in Tehran, we unload from the top bin the baggage of the old khanoum one seat ahead. She jerks her head toward me—پدرش آمریکایه؟, her inflection only half question—and my mother lies no, British, while in my pocket I finger the blue passport.


In 2009, the Iranian government still denies the children of khareji fathers citizenship. I gaze outward from a 2×2 visa portrait.


Long after the teenagers and the khanoum pass through Iranian customs, my mother and I remain, pulled out of line.


Before the flight, my mother ordered my silence before officials: no English, no Farsi. There is nothing fear has not suffered.


The Iranian official takes my passport to a back room to verify what the Pakistani Embassy’s Interest Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran has already verified: my mother is my mother; my father, my father—and isn’t that the trouble?


The biracial body is a prism: a diamond allegiance.


I am impenetrable to the invisible lines a dead cartographer has cut.

Yasmine Ameli is an Iranian American poet and essayist based outside Boston. She holds a BA in English from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Virginia Tech. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Sun, Southern Review, Narrative, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing through the Loft Literary Center and Grub Street and works independently as a writing life coach. You can find her on Instagram @yasmineameli.