Moncef Ouaaibi
Moncef Ouahibi
A prose poem

Continued from Banipal 39 . . .

 

IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER

 

Translated by Sinan Antoon

 

In the morning, when water was falling in threads, I was putting my first sentence in order/ I would write it and cross it out to write it/ I glimpsed, right here from the window in old Porto, the phantom of a woman reading on her rocking chair on the balcony of the house across from me. She was indifferent to the flat Acanthus leaves. It was getting dark around her/ I thought a bit and then left my things and took my binoculars/ All I saw was a wren bird, a mysterious light veiling her hands, amber ornament, tight pants, legs parting and closing as she read/my first sentence (I knew Qayrawan when hungry caravans were drawn by carriages and walls/Dawn was zigzagging up the slopes of its mountains/Illuminating half-open doors and children waiting on steps, or running in tunnels like rats/Rain had the smell of musk that day as it fell on its brown bricks and on toasted bread in its streets/Water was falling down in threads)/ I was saying that a glass of porto and the drone of two flies on the window of the bar hanging in the river’s sky at Porto are all I need to write the joy of two wet bodies hiding in the orchard’s grass. I remember two thighs opening for me like seashells. Her mouth wet as a date at times, warm as pastry at others. Rain tasted like grass and water was dropping down in threads. I was on a chair in the balcony/Surrounded by flat Acanthus leaves as they flash/I was reading what I was going to write when I glimpsed the phantom of a lady standing at the window in the house across from me/Binoculars watching me/ The water in crystal was dropping down in threads.

 

* If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is the title of a novel by Italo Calvino.