Ashraf Fayadh: ‘A Space in the Void’

“A Space in the Void,” from Fayadh’s 2008 collection Instructions Within, was translated by Jonathan Wright:

Everything has weight.
Your weight is well known to the back walls
because your heavy shadow doesn’t give the asphalt, the paint, or the writings stuck on the windows a chance to appear.
You also have space, significant space,
in the void.

The air is polluted, and the dumpsters are too,
and your soul, too, ever since it got mixed up with carbon.
And your heart, ever since the arteries were blocked
and it refused to grant citizenship
to the blood coming back from your head.

Without your memory, you’d lose much of your weight.
You need to follow a proper diet
to lose more of you.

Make up your mind quickly,
because the earth’s gravity
doesn’t wait long.
Hint: replace the time factor with your name
so that you find the right way to throw the last page
of your diary
right into the rubbish bin.

You consume enough air for two new-born babies
if the screaming was equal,
given that the air molecules around you
carry sound badly, and your throat
needs repairing.

A beggar woman of more than fifty displays her dignity in
a rag studded with coins. She prays that you, and that
pretty woman who happens to be walking beside you,
will soon be blessed with a child,
to fill another part of the void
in return for a coin.

The time has come for you to pick up the pace, not sexually,
and for you to change your smelly socks.

A scientific fact: bacteria grow rapidly.

Succumb to sleep.
because the time has come for you to melt, and dissolve,
to take the shape agreed for the alienation into which you’re have been poured.
Evaporate, condense,
and go back to your void,
to occupy your usual space
in the You.

Jonathan Wright is a Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize-winning translator (2013) who has brought many beautiful works into English, including Amjad Nasser’s Land of No Rain, for which he was commended by this year’s Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize judges.