A Valentine’s Poem: Mouna Ouafik’s ‘I Decorate Her Navel with Ezra Pound’s Penis’

I Decorate Her Navel with Ezra Pound’s Penis

By Mouna Ouafik

Translated by Robin Moger

Late come to creation,

So much happened without us.

Facing each other, we sit, both running on to all possible extremities.

This corner is not against that. You understand.

Together we brush the world aside:

You outwit it with acquiescence and I stand in both your ways; my instinct to dominate

What drew me to a poodle, worrying passionately at her husband’s army boot?

My love, like any season, is lacking and knows that it will end.

I loved you so much that I could have killed you.

Like an Amazon, my instinct is to strip then flay anyone who touches my soul

But you could frustrate God Himself.

You do not die. You don’t surrender.

In an instant, you took the coffins I buried you in and turned them into fridges. I was caught between

Chilled and frozen.

I wept over her who never melts. Pain revealed runs to pain revealing: comes to it and goes from it; goes from it and comes.

Mad with you, I called to you: “Let us trip the lemon’s peel and become two lemons for juicing.” If only you had not dismissed the tremors that rang true.


In an old text of mine, I wrote that one day I would read my work in the Royal Albert Hall

That my name would rank higher than Mona Wassef in a Google search

Today it’s like I’ve never heard my name at all

I think of displaying you in the Louvre or 

A waterlogged wasteland  

Having cut you into pieces and scattered you over bodies which, like you, are sobbing with desire

And cannot speak it.


Flawless desert girl from Ouled Ben Sbaa, I like to eat 

All red meats. So what!

My life is bitter and you in it are just an anchovy

Salt in the whisky’s dregs, and though

Life is shorter than the ripped jean skirt over Rihanna’s behind, mine

Still resounds with “one days”, so:

“One day”

I will pluck out your black sautéing moles which continue to jump about and provoke me

I will bite this body which made me rabid; foaming and writhing for the bundle of green beans

I will cut your hair. Oh from your hair thick varicose veins make my veins swell: 

And the gypsy hair lies black and long, o my heart / 

Wild and treacherous, its waves cast spells, o my heart / 

It plays in the breeze and flies 

I will prick out your eyes, 

Black ore dug from the coalfields. Fuck them.

I will slice off your ears: who buys words has only words to sell.

I will cool your boiling cheeks: I shan’t grow old before them.

I will clip your dry nails and scratch my back with them.

I will stuff your mouth with the fuchsia bra that so easily stirs the inverted member in my cunt.

I will dip the crimson worm which bobs in my mojito in the mustard sauce that drips from your voice.

I will ignore the ecstatic glances you give as you speak

Which flay me.

How hard this contact which only happens place from without.


With an untainted disinfectant I will wipe the wound which I made in your belly on your wedding night. 

I will leave you in need of care.

I will drip cold coffee into a Coca-Cola bottle, I will 

Drip my heart into yours. 

I will continue to make you jealous 

With Ruby Rose.

My straightness is not straight when it comes to her

I will push your thighs together. You will open them like a pair of translated poems.

You will open them on a letter I love:


I decorate your navel with Ezra Pound’s penis.

The piercing will dangle as you tremble. Amy Lowell, folding into a gale of laughter

And immediately I press


I will lose what little strength is mine, o let

This pain take me, either to remember or forget.


Mouna Ouafik is a Moroccan poet,short story writer,columnist and photographer. She has worked as a culture editor for a number of Arab periodicals and newspapers, and together with other journalists in Egypt, founded the International Federation of Electronic Journalism. Ouafik’s awards include the BBC Radio Award, the Kuwaiti Arab Magazine Award, and the Jazan Club Prize for Saudi Literature. Her published works include two short story collections and three collections of poetry. Her work appeared in the anthology We Wrote in Symbols, ed. Selma Dabbagh.

Robin Moger is a translator of Arabic into English. His translations of prose and poetry have appeared in The White ReviewTentacularAsymptoteWashington Square ReviewWords Without Borders, and others. He has translated several novels and prose works, including Haytham El Wardany’s The Book of Sleep (Seagull Books, 2020), Mohamed Kheir’s Slipping(Two Lines Press, 2021), and Yasser Abdellatif’s The Law of Inheritance (Seagull Books, 2019).