2

How foolish:
Whenever my heart
hears a knocking
it opens its doors


3

Desire enflames me
and my eyes glimmer
I stuff morals
in the nearest drawer
I turn into a devil
and blindfold my angels
just
for a kiss


5

I wait,
but what do I wait for?
A man who brings me flowers
and sweet words
A man
who looks at me and sees me
He talks to me
and listens to me.
A man who weeps
for me
and I pity him
and I love him


14

Women like me
do not know how to speak
A word remains in their throats
like a thorn
they choose to swallow
Women like me
know nothing except weeping
impossible weeping
suddenly
pouring
like a severed artery
Women like me
receive blows
and do not dare return them
They shake with anger
they subdue it
Like lions in cages
women like me
dream...
of freedom...


20

I killed my father
that night
or the other day—
I don’t remember
I escape with a suitcase
filled with dreams
and amnesia
and a picture of me
with him
when I was a child
and when he carried me
on his forearm

I buried my father
in a beautiful shell
in a deep ocean
but he found me
hiding under the bed
shaking with fear
and loneliness


30

Help me
my kind husband
to close this porthole
that has opened
on the highest wall
of my chest

Stop me
my wise husband
from climbing
the high-heels
of my femininity
for there
at the crossroads
a young man
awaits me


39

From time to time
he opened the windows
and every now and then
he closed them
His silhouette
betrayed him
behind his curtains
as he came and went
his travels
far and near
He turned up the radio
to fill his solitude
with music
deceiving the neighbors
that all was well
We used to see him
hurrying past
his head downcast
carrying his bread
and returning
to where
no one waited for him


40

He wanted
no more than that:
a house
children
and a wife
who loves him
But he woke up one day
and found that his spirit
had grown old

She wanted
not more than that:
a house
children
and a husband who loves her
She woke up
one day
and found
that her spirit
had opened a window
and fled


Translated by Khaled Mattawa
From ‘Karza Hamra’a ’ala Bilat Abyyadh’
Published by Tabr al-Zaman, Tunis, 1998