This lock-in Monday, as part of our ongoing series of stay-at-home literature (for those who are still at home, and those who aren’t), a short poem:
A Letter to Adil
By Ghareeb Iskander
Translated from the Arabic by Hassan Abdulrazzak
My loneliness has become like me
Its steps are lazy
Like the silence of the cities
in these days.
I am sitting down now
Close to one of your old photos
Like a disciple sharing a light with a blind master
I share the memory with your absence
I make excuses with the shadow depicted
By the lilac that died years ago
While I am in the garden,
That has become a carnival through imagination
fueled by isolation.
It was not my fault or yours
It was not the fault of the disciple or his master
It was not the garden’s fault!
To contain all this silence
What can I do?
Except stay deadly silent
In this desert
which dwells in a dark room.
The disciple shares his mute words
With his absent master
Through the tongues of others,
A talent they did not seek
Glowing like this evening
As I write my letter to you
The wandering spirit does not need
All this controversy.
A simple truth
Like these drops falling
Like a last light!
I was not dead
As the others thought
I was on a journey
watering the absence
Tasting it again
like an orphan child.
While he, the other
who truly left:
his laughter reverberates
in the spirit’s rooms.
London 11 April 20
Other translations in our stay-at-home series:
Tareq Emam’s ‘The Tale of the Woman with One Eye,’ translated by Katherine Van de Vate
4 Poems by Jan Dost, translated by Mey Dost
Issa Hassan Al-Yasiri’s ‘A Primitive Prayer for Uruk,’ translated by Ghareeb Iskander, with thanks to Hassan Abdulrazzak
Zakaria Tamer’s ‘The Flower,’ tr. Marilyn Hacker
Lock-in Limited Release: Naguib Mahfouz’s ‘The Man in the Picture’, tr. Karim Zidan
Ali el-Makk’s ‘Forty-One Minarets’, tr. Adil Babikir
‘Eyes Shut’ by Rami Tawil, tr. Nashwa Gowanlock
Bushra Fadil’s ‘Phosphorus at the Bottom of a Well.’ tr. Mustafa Adam
‘A Street in the Pandemic’ & Other Poems by Jawdat Fakhreddine, tr. Huda Fakhreddine
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