Faliha Hassan

Faliha Hassan "Those are stars,"
says the child,
as airplanes distort the face of the sky.
"I used to rest my head,”
his sister says, "upon his kind arms.
I don't remember how we
found the bones of the murdered one
who was my Daddy who
was defending us on this mirage-earth,
asking a shadow; how did this begin?"

The ash women cry,
"These are the portents of those lost
in the darkness of the prisons."
One of them calls for help,
"I didn't find him.
He left without a helmet,
and nothing distinguishes him
but his heart.
He was like my country
too great to bear.
They returned many corpses
but not his."
"These are the marks of a faded morning,"
says the woman who, still
tidying the bed blankets,
dreams he may come in one longing night,
lights a match,
holds back grief.

"These are the memories of past years,"
says one who has just come.
"To whom has my age been sold as wood fire
for a fire that has raged for twenty-three years
without ending?
These are mirrors for my hollow life.”

Birds cry as they follow an Apache squadron,
"Where are the windows?
Where are the windows?
We want air!"

Translated by Suheil Najem


Four Poems


I part my days:
One half for daughters not able yet
To count by hand
Or walk with open heart,
And a half for the man huddling upon the age
As heavy as the war
Or, like a palm with no breath of odour.
What left I turn to birds
Replete with white…
Fleeting sea gulls,
Butterflies lisping with magic,
Signs of Surprise,
Tales about elves,
And the carol
Living deep in the dream
Narrated by the grandma
As she was warning me
To run away
So that the core of the sea would cool off.
But, I forget her warning,
Wandering far out in my head,
But .. the clock calls to my dreams
So I come back…
To part my days:
One half for daughters not able yet
To jump as high as the wash rope
Burdened with woolen clothes,
And half
For the man sitting in silence
Sipping the nectar of the present
And cursing upon the future sorrow.


I'd like to come to you
But, our streets are red
And I do not have
But my white dress.


When the tomb has regained its lovely dimness,
I made my heart a window,
And started to praise my murderer.

The Child Martyr

For you, I write letters,
The others would be haunting me,
I hurried to the well to whisper:
It was a fast meeting
Like a bullet buried, through a bat, into the soldiers' ribs.
It was a slow meeting
Like a mother's tear
As she, preparing travel food
For the one born by the frontiers,
Whose birth certificate is full of worries.
All the overcoats are too large for him,
Yet, it is said that he's worn an overcoat,
This is doubtful,
For he's never been obsessed
With an instinct to take off his country.
I'll gather all those bloods
Still traveling…
Lest I should say that
Our descriptions are but kindred.
Some difference is there between us,
It is the wound, oh my companion,
To which I am an echo.

Translated by Hussein Nasser Jabr

Faliha Hassan, born in Najaf (Middle of Iraq) 1967. Published books of poetry: Because I Am a Girl, A Visit to the Museum of the Shadow, Five Addresses for the Friend of the Sea and Even after a While.

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