A Poem from ALQ: Fowziyah Abu Khalid’s ‘Wedding’

“Wedding” is one of four wedding poems by Saudi poet Fowziyah Abu Khalid, tr. Moneera Al-Ghadeer, included in the Fall 2022 issue of ArabLit Quarterly. Read more about the issue from guest editor Nashwa Nasreldin, and find out how to buy or borrow a copy.


By Fowziyah Abu Khalid

Translated by Moneera Al-Ghadeer

I’ve been dreaming of a wedding since the splash of

the first wet ink

I see myself

a Bedouin bride

a gypsy bride

a city bride

I see a bride 

vision cannot reach

I am a cotton bride

I am a rain bride

and when the wedding approaches

I wear a sparkly gown 

its trail a long river that flows into the ocean

I wear a lace veil holding its tip 

a blue bird escaping from Twitter

I wear earrings that drink from the expanse of Summan desert

I wear gold that shines on my Facebook page

I braid my long hair with pearl necklaces and jasmines 

I carry diamonds and false jewels 

which my slender body cannot bear

I place the traditional

makeup on my face

my smile appears so distant and mysterious on Instagram

like the Mona Lisa, no one knows

whether she is smiling or sad

I hear ululations trilling out inside me

like church bells on the eve of Good Friday

I see my story on Snapchat

itched by other eyes 

I straighten my posture

I walk down the aisle

covered with arms of ornaments

I stand vigilant, unspeakably lost

on the wedding stage

at once waiting for Godot

waiting for the barbarians

waiting for a thunderbird

or Al-Buraq

at once waiting for the man of my dreams

I only ever long to meet myself 

all this mad love

honoring the attempt 

to regain my freedom

and avoid the abduction of the wedding night


Fowziyah Abu Khalid is one of Saudi Arabia’s leading modern poets and is considered the first prose poet in Saudi Arabia. Her first collection, Until When They Abduct You on Your Wedding Night?, was published in 1974. Her poetry has been translated into English, French, and German, and she has won many prestigious awards.

Moneera Al-Ghadeer was a Visiting Professor of comparative literature in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University and was a Shawwaf Visiting Professor at Harvard University. She was a tenured Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She has published Desert Voices: Bedouin Women’s Poetry in Saudi Arabia (I.B. Tauris, 2009) as well as many articles, book chapters, and translations.