from ONE STEP BEHIND THE DANCERS
Most probably we managed to,
for we rocked him in the paper boat,
until the water became a shattering evidence.
But we could scream all right,
before the belle who despises rituals
could feel that the endings of the feather-light
sea are brighter than its beginnings,
and that the meek usually expose their claws
whenever love exceeds
their weight-lifting abilities.
Roofs did not collapse like silence,
for peace is fast asleep on the clothes sight,
and we’re both capable of collective screaming
since the day a woman asked a man
not to hold her accountable for her death
without consulting the lawyers.
The passers-by didn’t see us when we
sustained the pardon.
We can, then, teach the young generation
“Egyptian railroads were second
to be laid out in the whole world,”
the teacher said.
It follows, then, that she pressed her thighs
together, so she could pensively
watch the rice fields,
relieved from the pressure of fantasy.
And when the nipples betrayed her
with an unexpected awakening,
she examined the hair she’d combed
in the night-cabin,
so the captive could dishevel it
with an occasional sigh.
She summoned the criers back to the cabin,
for the soda water was allergic to lips,
and didn’t pay the VAT that much
attention, thinking that travelling
such distances toward the immigrants
was the duty of only the disassembled,
those who hadn’t paid the mother tax.
a giant leap
toward the flesh.
She had no idea the flute of nests
would fall upon her
from a place totally unexpected by
She then chose the organ instead,
as an indicator of the pit.
But as speed was picked up,
she noticed that the passengers
caught her looking at the conductor
on the sly,
so she wouldn’t be betrayed
by the agony of composers who’d
spoiled the cotton dolls
before they stole the spinning-wheel.
The railroad press rolled
and printed David’s ticket
into the banished woman’s handbag,
now that the iodine that
awakened the instincts
would be employed to convince
the parents they’re off to the beach,
and that a woman said:
“I’m richer than the sea,”
though she wasn’t sure
the hips would be able to prove
her claims right.
Qanawi didn’t watch her
‘cause no one pointed the scars out,
and she’ll make her own breakfast
when the morning comes, and sweep
the balcony. And she knows that
this is the look which brought about
the kissing-of-the-buttocks dispute,
while the switch workers understand
the hard-ons of the sidetracks.
You have no parcels to deliver;
all you have is this:
a female hostage seeking her mate,
tangled up in the fuel’s generosity.
Translated by Anton Shammas from Sarab Al-Triko [The T-Shirt Mirage], Cairo 1995
Published in Banipal 7, Spring 2000, page 24.
Click here to see other Selections from Banipal 7.
Saud Alsanousi from Kuwait wins International Prize for Arabic Fiction[read more]
Moroccan painter novelist Mahi Binebine launches his novel Horses of God in the UK[read more]
Marina Warner wins 2013 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights[read more]
Ghassan Zaqtan and translator Fady Joudah shortlisted for International Griffin Poetry Prize[read more]
FAROUK ABDEL WAHAB
passed away 3 April 2013
A Decade of Despair by Ahmad Saadawi published in the New York Times[read more]
[read all news stories]