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  • Unity Road, and: Lost in Paris, and: Faraway Risalet
  • Tahir Hamut (bio)
    Translated by Joshua L. Freeman (bio)

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[End Page 24]

Unity Road

Ürümchi, September 3, 2016

Night fell for the red-blooded,for the black-blooded as well.Dawn broke for the forgetful,for the vengeful as well.

Hurrying back from the hot burialhe washed death from his face in the wind,and then,from faithful east to fickle west,from mournful heights to joyous lows,from familiar edges to the unknown center,he set off with the step of a man who sinks in. [End Page 25]

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[End Page 26]

Lost in Paris

Like a stone gate standing motionless carved withnames I stared at the sky of an unknown streetwhile around me the city frothed and dizzied medrenched me in cold sweat and rainand before I really knew her I seemed to be lostI was truly lostI knew

At night there was no use setting my sights by the selflessEiffel Tower that bravely reached down into the Seineto fish its fate out of the murky waterso in the smelly old metro as theiron door handle wore away like timeI watched

The road map's knotted strings seemed jumbledlike the manners of that uncouth old émigré and the heirloomprayer beads given me by an unknown Turk aged thirty-eightwere of no use clicking softly in my pocket asI listened

I passed two tipsy Arab shopkeepers a LatinAmerican taxi driver a guy delivering pizza someone walkinga dog and none of them were lost together with meI felt

Moreover new destinations and also history romance perfume artwork beauties daydreams et ceteraI had to forego them allI understood

Paris whispered to me oh you ill-starred onego back the way you came [End Page 27]

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[End Page 28]

Faraway Risalet

Faraway Risaletwithout using her strong fingerscounts the distanceShe figures it's twelve hundred kilometersto Ürümchiand she starts to fret abouthow to squeeze into the cot on the busthe way her glasses will pinch if she lies sidewayshow to pass the timewhat to eat on the roadwhat to daydream aboutTo soothe herselfshe says, I make this long journey for loveshe says, I am entirely used to itshe says, the desert is so beautifulshe says, I am not aloneshe says, people here respect mebut when no one is looking she cries

Now,she must enjoy long journeysshe must learn to take deep breathsshe must scatter like the sand, harden like a rockshe must flower like a thornbush, yellow like a poplarshe must not fear the wide-open landshe must not tire of the sunlightshe must not run from the wind

Like a lizard that never loses its wayor perhapslike a camel that's just been broken infaraway Risalet [End Page 29]

Tahir Hamut

tahir hamut grew up in Kashgar, in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He is recognized as one of the foremost poets writing in Uyghur. Additionally, he has worked as a director of numerous documentaries, music videos, advertisements, and feature films, and is now a producer at Radio Free Asia. His poetry has appeared in English translation in Asymptote, Words Without Borders, and Berkeley Poetry Review.

Joshua L. Freeman

joshua l. freeman is a historian and translator, and is currently a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. He received his PhD at Harvard University, where he focused on Uyghur cultural history in twentieth-century China. His translations of contemporary Uyghur poetry have appeared in Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, and Hayden's Ferry Review.



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