‘The Cat Cow’ by Ahlam Bsharat

The cat named Cow also appears in Ahlam The cat named Cow also appears in Ahlam Bsharat’s untitled poem, which begins I Saw a Dead Road on the Road.” Here, Cow has survived:

The Cat Cow

Photo: Beesan Abd AlRaheem

By Ahlam Bsharat

Translated by Andrew Leber

I want to hug the cat named Cow, who survived the war

Squeeze her so hard in my arms

That her spots rub off on me

That I become like her

Or simply become her

The cat Cow


I want to hug the ruined balcony, some of which, not all of which, survived the war


And tell her:

My heart’s balcony is with you, Balcony

My railing hugging yours

My washing hugging yours

My hoe stored in the corner hugging yours

My view hugging yours

Hugging every last thing in sight

Every atom of air

Every flight of birds


I don’t want to hug my friends, the survivors of the war

Afraid they’ll fall from my hands

Afraid they’ll melt at my heat

Afraid I’ll kill them with my hug

Even where the war did not


القطة بقرة

أحلام بشارات*


أريد أن أحضن القطة ” بقرة” التي نجت من الحرب

وأعصرها بين ذراعي

فتسيل بقعها عليٌ

فأصير مثلها

أو أصير هي

القطة بقرة


أريد أن أحضن البلكونة المحطمة التي نجا بعضها، ولم تنج كلها، من الحرب


وأقول لها:

قلب بلكونتي معك أيتها البلكونة

ورودي تحضن و رودك

غسيلي يحضن غسيلك

فأسي يحضن فأسك

والمنظر الذي أطل عليه

يحضن المنظر الذي تطلين عليه

ويحضن كل عنصر فيه

ذرة الهواء

ورفيف الطيور


لا أريد أن أحضن أصدقائي الناجين من الحرب

أخشى ان يتساقطوا من بين يدي

أخشى أن يذوبوا من حرارتي

أخشى ان أقتلهم لأني احتضنتهم

بينما لم تفعل الحرب

Ahlam Bsharat is a Palestinian writer who grew up in a village in Northern Palestine. She completed her Master’s Degree in Arabic Literature at An-Najah National University in Nablus. Besides poetry, picture books, short stories, novels, and memoirs, she has written a number of television and radio scripts. Her books have received many awards and recommendations. Ismee Alharakee Farasha (translated into the English as Code Name: Butterfly) was included in the IBBY Honor List for 2012, a biennial selection of outstanding, recently published books from more than seventy countries. Ismee Alharakee Farasha and Ashjaar lil-Naas al-Ghaa’ibeen (translated into English as Trees for the Absentees) were both runners up for the Etisalat Award For Children’s Arabic Literature in 2013. Code Name: Butterfly was shortlisted for the UK-based Palestine Book Awards in 2017. Bsharat also has a story in the recent collection, The Book of Ramallahed. Maya Abu Alhayyat.

Andrew Leber is a translator and researcher. He graduated from Brown University and was a Fellow of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo from 2012 to 2013. He has previously translated short excerpts of Syrian and Palestinian literature, including a selection of Hani al-Rahib’s The Epidemic (1981), Saadallah Wanous’ play The Elephant, Your Majesty (1969), along with a number of writings by Gazan authors Najlaa Ataallah and Atef Abu Saif, and Iraqi author Diaa Jubaili (including “The Worker” in Iraq + 100).