Abbas Beydoun


And I say goodbye to these stones
that have begun to ramble
and have blackened all at once,
those stones we skipped over as we ran.
We will not say the wind was also foolish
when it blew over them.
The sea will lick them;
this will always happen.
The sea licks them
and the air sniffs at them endlessly.


Rain falls without a care
on my life
which is always lit like a jail cell.
I leave it now,
where only a door remains to me.
I did not always live here.
I had my friends' homes.
Since that night
I stopped being the gardener of my life.
A wicked vine
grew among the grasses,
and no one weeded out the follies
whose roots have hardened.
I am no longer the gardener of my life.
I leave it for new tenants and friends
who earned it with their betrayals.


Rain falls too
and the earth is slick under its brush.
The stones are shiny with the saliva of the sea.
The day is smooth, bald
with the sleek laugh of the sea,
and I, sleepless on a hotel bed,
gaze with an empty smile at the sea.


Goodbye to the fort
they razed two generations ago.
They still wander about where it stood.
Goodbye to the asphalt,
my longer hair,
to the song I drank from a Russian novel,
to the radio that broadcast a life
that never came my way.


Dreams and Potatoes

They put the fish in the oven.  They pull dreams out of the earth.  Here where the people of the well were lost, others too disappear following bird tracks.  We grubbed for dreams and potatoes and we plucked live fishes.  We ate many secrets and many more springs.  Until that weariness leaves us, we will not mind the earth that has fled our eyes.

A Wave

The wave, as it rolled, did not notice it had lost its calling and that it was going back to being a gasp.  This happened when the sea was nothing but depth.  Those who played on its surface never noticed the wave's absence.  The light water that was about to disappear pulled us further in.  Touched by a strange breeze, we never stopped dreaming of sails.  When water recedes to being only a smell, we move on and note here and there an earthquake clearing its throat.  With the power of hearing alone we found even older ch ron icles.  And when our tracks are lost, higher levels of silence will disappear, and stones that were about to catch their first scent of life.

When we direct our smiles at other depths, they follow us without stopping, and the child-volcano smiles above the surf.

The mail of steps

In the smallest room
there's a flicker of light.
Your steps chase me to here
and my hearing follows them like a dog.
I listen
until I lose their tracks among the roads.
I turn over my hand.
I try to make a secret out of my fingers.
I close my eyes.
I try to make with my furrowed face a climate
or bread or a mask.
I swim under my own breathing.
Your steps resemble silence.
Like a sprinkling of flour on asphalt
the sellers carry them with their voices,
the lorries take them until they disappear.
They are my mail
and you'll have none of them
except this echo
as you take off your dress
where there'll be no foot steps
slowing by your door.

Translated by Khaled Mattawa from the author's collections 'Hujurat', 'Li Mareedhin Huwa al-Amal' and 'Ashiqa'a Nadamuna'.  Here reprinted from Banipal Nos 3 and 13.

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