Rasha Omran
Rasha Omran
When Longing Tormented Me

Full of wonder

just like me

that half-lit house

in the street



the man who left a moment ago

the man bent over a table

or the cover of a book


in a place where life slumps



that man

in silent departure

left oil

in my lamp


to see you




the stirring seasons

the dense colours

the heavy rain

I mean you

when you don’t stop

storming me


what is it I wanted when we entered

that storm

I was

like one arresting the betrayal of life

or driving it to dead ends

where, clear

coming into view

was the true metal

of death


Where did we get

the idea of going into this night that doesn’t subside?

I knew

there was no way back for us


with eyes closed

and hands holding tight to the vision

I was happy

travelling with you on the edge of time

My ice floe

will melt abruptly

and may



that longing that drives us

in its footsteps

that longing like a red-hot iron

the sounds stamped into our sandy memories


how alike we are

in the sudden



in the beginning there was nothing

but illusion


let all sounds be silenced

leaving doubt to watch over our bodies

to plunge in the most painful depths

where poetry

and death


over the dark sky


What meaning will my words carry?

That evening

you knew me well

as if you were my shadow

A long while

has not distanced you from me

we have a closeness with the earth

and fear faces me

I pour forth like water

where original meaning

cannot be



Why the words?

You so decided

and I had to agree

then surrender to the story of your hands

where they speak




I have to ask no longer

who you are

and you surprise me with your sharpness

You would separate your being there

from that difficult memory

and I’d do nothing

but go with you,

toward that one mysterious

and tattooed,

with your difficult breathing




three times

and all we wanted from those stammered words


the silent understanding of the first shiver

of the betrayal




stolen happiness

that’s it

why apologize




is it.


Places aren’t too different

maybe lovers

endlessly conquer them

but they take hold of us

with their everlasting shadows

we escape

in hidden struggle


I’m not asleep

just me

I swing in this muddled depth

where the shadow of your face

is cast back like the flame

on the register of death


My love caught you by surprise

you were perplexed

How you and the bedspread

sought pointlessly

for the thread

that separates beginning

from end


I am just one woman

but you

are one substance with the universe

I lifted you to my true me


that day

the weather was not cool

in spite of the clouds

it started to pour from my fingers

I was hopeful

that a time of water

was rising

and keeping you

but you left

you left

longer than the arid dessert . . .

This excerpt of “When longing tormented me” was translated from the author’s collection Dhullaka al-Mumtadd fi Aqsa Hanini, Dar al-Yanabia’, Damascus, 2003, by Camilo Gomez-Rivas