Syrian poet Rasha Omran’s latest collection, زوجةٌ سرِّيَّةٌ للغياب [A Secret Wife of Absence], is now out from Al-Mutawassit Press. Omran’s sixth collection offers a sustained meditation on love, loneliness, and heartbreak through a series of concise, image-dense poems:
The three poems below were selected and translated by Phoebe Carter.
I know Love has hiding places no one can find
Sometimes he pokes his head out like a timid snake
he’ll slip out in his full length to come rest in my arms
I, the constant lover
will give him a long kiss
My kiss won’t turn him into a radiant prince
as the fairy tales told us
He’ll just wrap himself around my body and fall into a deep sleep
I’ll peel off his precious skin
to fashion an elegant shawl
And so I’ll live out the rest of my days:
a woman wearing about her shoulders the elegant skin of Love
as she searches for a spell to chant three times
to wake the snake wrapped around her body
who will give her a long kiss
before falling back to sleep.
Because I, too, know that no one dies of love,
I live my life like a normal woman.
I wake up in the morning, drink my coffee, do all the things any single woman like me would do.
Then, before going to sleep, I sweep up the death that’s piled up on the floorboards
throughout the day
Every day I do this
and every day I forget to plug the hole you dug in my soul when you left
this hole leaking death like dust leaving my body.
I stay alive as certain proof that no one dies of love.
I know my love for you is strange
One day it will become a story passed down through generations of women
I’ll be just a speck in the void then
Every time a grandmother tells her granddaughter
The story of the lover
Who etched a charm into her skin
In the shape of a house, its windows flung open
Its entrance furnished with dew-dropped grass
Even if her beloved wanted to step inside
He wouldn’t notice the charm
Turning his hands into two blossoming palm trees
Every time he nears the windows
Trying to draw them closed
Phoebe Carter, a Ph.D. student in comparative literature at Harvard University, is ArabLit’s Cairo Editor.
The book is available: