An essay adapted from Dunya Mikhail’s The Beekeeper (tr. Mikhail and Max Weiss) is available at The Nation:
Mikhail’s book — part biography, part poetry, part memoir — was named one of the Christian Science Monitor’s “Best Books of March.” You can also hear it discussed in Episode 8 of the Bulaq podcast.
The material in The Nation comes from the center of the book, when the poet is talking about her own life and memories:
My home was in that little spot right there. Can you see it?
From above, it isn’t possible to see inside the houses, to recognize the lives of the inhabitants, their struggles over the little things and the big things, their movements getting slower and slower all the time. From above, the burnt fields and bewildered animals look more like an abstraction.
From above, there are no souls, only bodies, but they are seen as hollow forms, moving the way atoms do in the universe — unseen. From above, it’s possible for bodies to disappear, to assimilate into water or earth or fire or air.
The signs on the paths reflect the loss of souls or bodies or both. From above, bodies intersect in lines and squares and circles — they look like scars on the face of the earth.
From above, forms are shadows of reality, like those in Plato’s Cave.
Keep reading at The Nation.
Also read a mini-interview with Mikahil at The Rumpus.