2019 marks the fourth Christmas for Nazanin Radcliffe to languish in an Iranian prison caught in a power struggle between Britain and Iran. This week her husband, Richard, and five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, help vigil outside the British Prime Minister’s residence on Downing Street.
Read the Daily Mail report here.
Nazanin and baby Gabriella were detained at the Tehran International Airport three and a half years ago after a visit with Nazanin’s parents. Though accused of plotting against the Iranian regime, it appears Nazanin is a pawn in a dispute over an old debt from Britain to the Iranian government. Until recently Gabriella lived with her grandparents and visited her mother, when allowed, in prison. Bittersweet moments with Gabriella and occasional long distance phone conversations with Richard have punctuated Nazanin’s months, days, and years of incarceration. Gabriella is now with her father in London. Her mum’s imprisonment will no doubt be a defining theme of her life.
I’ve been praying for Nazanin through the ordeal, hoping for her freedom, and consciously joining others in prayers to mitigate and improve the circumstances of her days. Read and sign the Free Nazanin Ratcliffe Petition at Change.org.
Below is a poem Nazanin transmitted through Richard. “A Yard of Sky” so poignantly expresses her pain and hope for better days.
You remain in our hearts, Nazanin…..
A Yard of Sky
by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Sometimes days can pass
Without me seeing the sky
Except that small piece with the lonely cloud
Brooding over the prison yard
Our view in this far off place
While elsewhere the trees bloom
And the sun dazzles
And the leaves fall
And the snows come again
In our yard of sky
Days do not differ
They do not pass, but repeat
As a mother alone
These days I am a lonely mother:
I bathed my baby in my tears of goodbye
My arms full of cuddles now ended,
With kisses of hope
For her return
On an adventure to be with her hero
Who she could only imagined for more than half her life
A reality now to mend.
I was left behind
With my repeating
While outside passes by and on
Tears my food, fears filling my mind
Solitude too often my friend, and doubt my relentless foe
What if they never let me go?
Laughter become my past, sorrow only my present
And hope on a horizon hard to see
Yesterday we sat in the yard
We welcomed the newcomers from solitary
And baked scones for breakfast
Which we ate with pistachio peel jam
Willing it to taste sweet
We showed them the yard of winter sun
Wishing it to be warm
I talked of the almond tree
In my grandparents’ village up in the hills.
It survives the wind and cold and storm
Then bears the most beautiful blossoms
And almonds so sweet in May
I talked of the almond tree we have at home
Now far away
I talked of being strong
To myself as well as to those listening
For when the seasons move again.
Freedom needs its faiths
That faith is our survival
Within these walls of recurring days
Across the swirling storms of Iran
That lonely days of separation will pass,
That the walls will fall
That beyond the pale sun
Injustice will become a shadow
And our trees of solitude will blossom again
In the sky beyond the yard.
One day we will sit on our own balcony
And see the sky open wide
Watching the seals in their sunbathing
A new breakfast of scones and jam
Understanding their sweetness anew
With the happiness in arms so long out stretching
And cuddles no longer missed
Now to fill a new life.
Evin Prison, Winter 2019