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 poet, born in Tartus, Syria in 1964, now lives in Egypt.

The three poems below were selected and translated by Phoebe Carter.

 

Shawl

 

I know Love has hiding places no one can find

Sometimes he pokes his head out like a timid snake

Someday

he’ll slip out in his full length to come rest in my arms

I, the constant lover

will give him a long kiss

and wait

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.

            Normal life

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.

And so

I stay alive as certain proof that no one dies of love.

            Charms

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

Twinkling star-like

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:

On Jamalon.

Also: 

Rasha Omran Trilingual Poetry Collection Free, Online

Rasha Omran: ‘Now Death For Me Is No Longer Abstract’