‘A Confession,’ by Tunisian Poet Sami Messelmani

Translator Sihem Hammouda shares a favorite poem by Tunisian poet Sami Messelmani

By Sihem Hammouda

Sami Messelmani, who writes mostly prose poetry, is one of Tunisia’s most distinguished poets in Tunisia. In addition to being a poet, he is also a teacher and a critic. One of his best-known works is Pillows of an Exhausted Wave.

A Confession

By Sami Messelmani

Translated by Sihem Hammouda

I realize that many
do not acknowledge me,
do not see me as a rose-seller:
one who arranges lilies
or serves up carnations

perhaps because I am too calm,
like a cold fire,
and I don’t chase the
resounding booms,
nor do I have I great desire
to lie down
like a face, its features erased

I will not be angered by their disregard,
everything they say,
will be but stray arrows
eternally drowning
in false lights

I do not care about the limelight,
their bright lights
infect me with an intellectual insomnia
shrinking my soul,
and blinding my eyes,
have not yet become accustomed to tapping tambourines.

Sihem Hammouda is a Tunisian writer and translator who works between English, Arabic, and French. She also works as a teacher.