Amin Saleh

Translation: Hamad Al-Rayes 
Dr. Phil Tabakow


Amin SalehThe boats pass by, the winds pass by, the storks pass by...
and now,
on the lonely riverbank, a solitary man
who knows not how to speak to the water.


They left,
one after another,
and left their shadows in the room overlooking the past.
The old man in his rocking chair
lights his pipe and begins endless conversations
with shadows gnawed by boredom...
one after another.


The hunched traveler walked away,
like one who is carrying a pile of lead on his back.
Each time he stopped to rest, he wiped the sweat off and mumbled:
"How heavy this homeland is.


Autumn denudes the tree.
No snow, no wings,
nothing to veil the shame.


He opened wide the door, the windows, his heart,
for visitors who said they would come.
And here midnight has come, and still he waits,
saying to himself, "perhaps an emergency has delayed them."
Thus he has been acting, thus he has been speaking...
ever since they left and never came back.


From afar he monitors the woman standing behind the window,
captivated by her angelic face whose purity is untarnished by sadness,
taken by her tears which trot lightly in space, like cosmic drizzle.
From afar he watches the unseen presence
of a woman crying behind the window.


The earth extends before her eyes at dusk, like a grey carpet which splits the horizon in two; day on one side, and night on the other.
They meet in an iris pure as a spring. And on the shores of fields, over there, run the lost souls, looking for shelter.
Summer after summer,
at a time like this, the old lady remains before her open door, watching the road and suckling the horizon, so that it will herald the arrival of the sons once it smells the scent of their steps.
Summer after summer,
she decorates her white hair with roses, so that the sons will not pass by without knocking on the door of her endless slumber.


His castle was not immune enough.
It was frail as a cloud
resisting the penetration of keys embroidered with treachery.


Many people have come and gone.
Many dreams have come and gone.
And the old house still hosts the dust, while ivies stroll in its spacious rooms.
Right here, on the marble, fragments of speech; on the steps, traces of coffee and incense, and at the center of the courtyard, an apple tree which has been standing eternally,
guarding its prolonged demise.


The mute stranger passed by, with seaweed and froth on his shoulders.
He approached the almond trees to write his final will:
"Take me, when I die, to the sea... and do not bury me in this land so confident of its own demise."


Pomegranates hang above a woman sitting against the trunk,
mending a shirt for her lost son.
Pomegranates hang above the present of the woman
who descends the stairs of the past
to offer her son a shirt of milk.


The night of silver
conspires with the winged desire,
knocking on the lashes of she who sleeps beneath the scent of the forest.


The sea is everywhere—
in the alleys and the houses and the yards.
The sea is in the dream of the sleeper whose lashes are covered with salt.


The old woman stitches superstitions into the pupils of grandchildren who enter the tale with the apprehension of entering a labyrinth.
And before the tale reaches its end
somnolence touches their eyelids with its dream-wet wings


Lightly, they traverse the evening,
scattering the traps in the field and terrorizing the spicas.
Lightly, they ignite the vicious humor,
their irises like the irises of jackals.