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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 26-29

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Wedding Song, and: She's Alone in The Evening, and: While Waiting

Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah

Wedding Song

And I moved into you, as astronomers move
from one planet to another. My soul looks upon
my body through your ten fingers.
Take me to you, dash off with the dove
to the remoteness of cooing on your two sides: expanse
and echo. And let the horses run after me
in vain. Because I do not, yet, see my image
in its water . . . I see no one.

I see no one, I do not see you. So what
have you done with my freedom? Who am I
behind the city wall? No mother kneading my long
hair with her eternal henna, and no sister
braids it. Who am I outside the wall between
neutral fields and an ashen sky. So be
my mother in the stranger's land. And take me
gently to whom I become tomorrow.

Who do I become tomorrow? Will I be born
out of your rib a woman without worry except to adorn
your life. Or will I cry over there on a rock
that used to guide my clouds to your water well?
Take me to the end
of the earth before morning rises on a moon that used
to cry blood in bed, and take me gently
as a star takes the dreamers in vain. [End Page 26]

And in vain, I look behind Moab's mountains,
since no wind brings back the bride's dress. I love you
but my heart resonates with echo's return and longs
for another iris. Is there a sorrow more
confusing than a woman's happiness
on her wedding night? And I love you no matter how often I remember
my yesterday, no matter how often I remember that I forget
the echo in echo.

Echo in echo, and I moved into you
as a name moves from one creature to another.
We were two strangers in two faraway lands a while ago,
so what will I be tomorrow when I become
two? What have you done with my freedom?
Whenever my fear of you mounts, I rush into you,
my beloved stranger, since my ardent desire
is my only credit. So be a kind fox in my vineyard
and stare with the green of your eye in my ache.
I won't return to my name and my wilderness, never

She's Alone in The Evening

She's alone in the evening
and I am alone like she is . . .
Between her candles and me in the winter restaurant
are two vacant tables (nothing disturbs our silence).
She doesn't see me, when I see her
picking a rose from her chest, [End Page 27]
and I also don't see her, when she sees me
sipping from my wine a kiss . . .
She doesn't crumble her bread
and I also don't spill the water
on the paper tablecloth
(nothing disturbs our clarity).
She's alone, and I am in front of her beauty
alone. Why doesn't delicacy unite us?
I said to myself
why don't I taste her wine?
She doesn't see me, when I see her
uncrossing her legs . . .
And I also don't see her, when she sees me
taking off my coat . . .
Nothing bothers her when she's with me,
nothing bothers me, because we are now
harmonious in forgetfulness . . .
Our dinner was, separately, delicious.
The night sound was blue.
I wasn't alone, and neither was she alone.
We were together listening to the crystal
(nothing fractures our night).

She doesn't say:

love is born a living creature
before it becomes an idea,
and I also don't say:
love has become an idea.

But it seems like it . . . [End Page 28]

While Waiting

While waiting, I become obsessed with observing...


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pp. 26-29
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