These four poems, taken from Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within (2008), were translated by Jonathan Wright:
A son and a daughter.
The mother prefers the son to the daughter.
The son will stand by his mother through the vicissitudes of life.
The daughter will produce another son to stand by her side.
To be in love is not to be a bird in the hand of the one you love,
better for them than ten in the bush.
A bird in the bush is better than ten in the hand,
from the birds’ point of view.
Sometimes love is like a meal to someone who’s been fasting
at other times it’s like a new pair of sports shoes given
to a disabled child.
Love, in general, is a deal that brings much loss
to all parties.
The old door applauds the wind by clapping
for the dance it has performed, accompanied by the trees.
The old door doesn’t have hands
and the trees haven’t been to dancing school.
And the wind is an invisible creature,
even when it’s dancing with the trees.
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.