A Poem

Translated by Allison Blecker


A boy and his puppy
used to play
on the bank of the lake.
They grew accustomed to sleeping in the forest’s
large violin.

Their two shadows were also there.

The boy fed the puppy a bone,
untied his leash,
rubbed his belly,
kissed him
and sang him a country song.

The two shadows are still.

The puppy chased butterflies,
chased the hastening clouds,
jumping here and there,
barking at them
as if he yearned to touch them.
The boy, anxious behind him, began
to call him.

The two shadows are still.

The boy became a short rope
for the puppy that fell
into the deep well.

The puppy’s voice was cut off
and the boy’s hand could not

The two shadows are still.

The boy wept bitterly,
carved the puppy’s name on the trunk of a pine tree,
abandoned the leash and the bone
and plunged his stick between them.
He tossed three pebbles
and several fish raised their heads.
Then he threw himself into the lake
and disappeared.

The two shadows in the lake

The ancient keeper of the forest,
he alone crowds
the sidewalks of the sky
and the world in great ruin
falls from his mouth
like coins.
He passed by there with his spotted dog,
calling loudly.
It was enough to rouse seven villages
from their slumber.

At that very moment, the two shadows
opened their eyes
and emerged from the river, wet
as if they had just been born
or as if they had not yet
finished playing.

A boy and his puppy
as was their wont
jumped into the old carriage
and at the sound of the keeper’s lyre
departed together like a happy family of ghosts
to where
the four
became two.

From his collection Aalam Taweela Ka Dhilal el-Qitarat,
published in Arabic by Al-Muassa al-Arabiya lil-Dirassat wal Nashr, Beirut & Amman, 2010