Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

glee

BY GHASSAN ZAQTAN (TRANS. FADY JOUDAH)

 

They stood at the bus stop,
two schoolgirls, a woman, and a wind:
Wind, my hat is made of literary straw,
my coat is tattered, my hankie a rain

The glee in poems trails my steps
and in my hand there’s a pampered world
            whose air
            sky
            and the tenderness
            of its youth
            the narcissus of its garment
            I made

To write a memory I gathered a memory
and to green the marshes I sprinkled friends
over the salt marshes, and was at a loss
with myself, I the conceited, at a loss
with my palm as I collected stones,
fruits and people from the hell of the earth
to return them as poems
that dreams almost leap out of

I was at a loss with myself and with things
as simple as water

A god had kissed me on the mouth and lit up,
he had released me to my name then called me by it,
I stepped down from my body
to look about him and saw and was
at a loss

I visited my poem in its house,
buried its dumb ornament in the dirt
and told words:
            Don’t come to me
            a line on salvation’s platter, exalted
            in anticipation and wailing, primed
            for deliverance!

Interlocutors and disobedient they came:
whichever way I tugged at the drunken boat
in my contemplation’s depths, that it might
see me as I walked, I the conceited,
dreaming of giving light
back to the blind, thought
back to the foolish
when I’m only one

who’s merrily walking
in front of the bus  

 

 

Joudah 22

Fady Joudah’s poetry and translations have earned him several awards. In 2013 he received the Griffin Poetry prize for his translation of Ghassan Zaqtan’s work, Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me. Joudah’s most recent poetry collection is Textu.

Ghassan Zaqtan is a prominent Palestinian poet writing in Arabic, with more than ten collections to his name, and several prose works. His writing has been translated into several languages and he was twice nominated for the Neustadt Prize. The Silence That Remains, a bilingual edition of selected works, is available from Copper Canyon press.

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