Things asleep

Look at me mother,

I’m back with more meat

and bones and wisdom.

These days I can think of death,

and sleep without being lulled, 

my milk teeth now grind my losses.

I came back to find

tongues of lullabies severed,

children bellowing in every corner

and the Muezzin’s call stifled

by a strange hand

Return is a cinema screen

and I no longer recognise the lead.

She comes in once,

yet tampers with the scenario

a thousand times.

Return is a cat who ate its young.

Return is my plait,

that I cut off

and fed to time.

The once green garden is now a woman

afraid of old age,

the well, a bed in a hospital,

and cats are the souls of women who once

cried on my arm.

And I am now your mother.

I shield your body with mine,

from the bullet that your seventy years

will suddenly release.

The accent I once rode,

now rests under the earth.

What happened to the shifting “Qaf”

and the “Kaf” that barely came out?

Where is the sling and the bird?

Where is the neighbours’ boy?

What was his name?

..and what was mine?

I wouldn’t have forgotten it

had it had

only one name; 

it would have fallen

right on my head

like a sniper’s shot. 

Where are the skins I cured with life’s salt?

Where are the war supplies

that never came?

They were eaten by waiting and mites.

Where is that Northern gate that opens out

onto happiness?

Where is my uncle Mahmoud,

who used to eat grass and ask God

to forgive humanity’s sin?

My old father, who became my son, is dead.

But where is the young man

who used to be my father?

Where is that body I used to climb

and pick from its forehead

the sour fruits of time?

Tell him that all the political lessons

have rotted in my head

and that I’ve replaced them

with poems I do not understand,

that I wanted to fix but spoiled instead.

My mother put

a finger to her mouth

signaling me to shut up

and pointed a finger

at the piles

of things asleep.

I am but one word

Look father,

language is a lavish bed

and I slipped out of life’s vagina

onto an old step.

So in which language do I lament your death?

For twelve whole years

Al-Khansa’* stood at the school gate.

I gibbered after her,

like a parrot with no tongue

and every time tears welled up in her eyes,

creatures with hardened skins

would walk across the desert of my eyes.

My mother cuts the mulberry tree

everytime it grows,

so its roots don’t split the wall.

Which language can split

my sadness over you?

I picked the words

off the tree’s memory

of its long-gone limbs,

I plowed language

from the meadow’s fantasy

of its absent expanse.

Cats taught me their elegies

over the fetuses

that never formed in their wombs,

death tied me to the school gate,

asking for its share;

I am but one word

hopping on its short tongue

I am but a word I can’t make out

I will be spoken and be finished

If lamentation was meowing

or bleating

I would become it.

I would be a long wail

that summons my father

or a question that leads me

to him

I am but a name that stayed in God’s belly,

one that he forgot to teach Adam.

Let me know of other names

so I can say another.

Look father,

language is a lavish bed,

Al-Khansa’ sleeps on it like a ripe sphere.

When I stand at its foot,

Like an abandoned quarter,

silence whistles through me.

And into my body,

on the tips of their toes,

come the elegies[1].

A bed of green onions

Come look, my cat,

at my dull ember.

Each time I turn my back,

It’s covered with ash by time’s big hands

And I am like you in this darkness;

my pupils dilated,

my meowing stifled

in the chest of an old doll

Pupils crossed by ancient travelers

who never even heard

of the idea of arrival

Pupils of railways and cities

and whistles and leaving,

expansive as a meadow that lost

his father, the horizon

and so went on forever.

I rode on the back of his untamed wind,

I spun my life into detective stories,

I dwelled forty bodies and left fifty,

I married twice,

I almost died

a thousand times in my dreams

If it weren’t for the scarecrow of loneliness

who punctured the silence of the night

I tattooed a Canaanite tablet on my back

and took to persuading people

that I was four thousand years old.

I built houses on hills that I did not know.

I lived in them,

then razed them to the ground,

then built others

I discarded men, and attracted others

I thought I had been killed

but my breath kept running

back to my chest

I politely threw love out,

and so he came back

through the window

I slaughtered the children that I thought up,

to escape the prisons of motherhood.

And motherhood watched from afar, delighted

I hid my father’s rifle

hoping that gazelles would one day rule us

but they were then skinned in our kitchen

Then God’s chosen people

began to choose

our heads one after the other,

dragging us to the big slaughterhouse

that we call freedom

My skin is mottled with joy and regret.

Each time I replace it

with a smooth dress

it is torn by sarcasm’s nails

and I am left naked

I have met poets

with whom I thought

that doomsday was upon us.

And that God had chosen us,

only us, to live

I have left men,

making them think

that they were bastards

and that they did not deserve love

except to lament their luck at its gate

And here I am

After all this, my mottled cat,

meowing mutely at the gate

of our little house.

The beautiful past lets me in,

I walk in the backyard

looking for the tail

of a fish I ate thirty years ago

The pomegranate tree is dead

but its shadow lives on,

my pupils dilate in its blackness

I crawl atop the wall

overlooking a bed of green onions

My mother’s hand weeds it

My father’s is buried within it

[1]                   One of the most influential poets of the pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods. In her time, the role of a female poet was to write elegies for the dead. 

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هل تريد/ين الاشتراك في نشرتنا الأخبارية؟

سجّل بريدك الإلكتروني

الرجاء تعبة النموذج لحجز مساحة في الجاليري

طلب حجز مساحة في جاليري 28

سيتم التواصل معكم لإتمام الحجز

الرجاء تعبة النموذج لطلب مشاركتك باضافة محتوى في الموقع، مع العلم انه سيتم التواصل معكم لاعلامكم بنتائج الطلب او مناقشة أي تفاصيل

طلب المشاركة بمحتوى

ملاحظة: امتدادات الملفات المقبول pdf, doc,docx