After being detained in a shipping container for 44 days earlier this year, Iranian poet and novelist Payam Feili was forced into exile in Turkey last month, amid increasing threats against him and his family. As in much of his writing, his novella I Will Grow, I Will Bear FruitFigs, speaks openly of his sexuality—a courageous move in a society where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment, or, in some cases, death. You can read more about Feili’s case here.


Excerpts from
I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit … Figs
by Payam Feili

I am twenty-one. I am a homosexual. I like the afternoon sun.

Poker. That is what I call him. He is my only friend. We met during military training. He is twenty-one. He likes the afternoon sun, and he is not a homosexual.

I consider this a threat. I have never talked to anyone about my sexual inclination. In fact, I hide it. Even from my few sexual partners. With them, I pretend it is my first such experience.

I love you Poke—r!

It is always like this. Things that you cannot whisper to someone, you must shout out in solitude.

I found you on the edge of the fog, Poker. On the edge of the fog. I found you beneath the drifting trees when your eyes were the shelter of fawns.

I found you in the plains, Poker. Among the clusters of weeds. When I was afraid … when something was growing inside me, expanding, becoming painful. I found you in the plains, Poker.

When I was running away from everything, you were in the plains. You were there. The day when I was escaping from the night-prowlers, when I was searching the plains for a pond in which I could hide my full moon. That day, too, you were there, Poker. Your bright reflection on the pond. Wherever I fall from … you were the shelter of fawns.