Zakaria Mohammed

The Reapers

- Who are you, trekking along rough roads,
sweat secreting from your bodies?
- We are the reapers of the rolling hills.
We set out at dawn
and harvested the wind 
and time
and hallucinations sprouting 
like the grasses of the savanna
If the night hadn't fallen so soon
we would've reaped with our scythes
silence, death and stone
and descended toward the sea
to gather its waves and its tremor
then head to the desert
to bring down its palm trees forever  
Oh, what a wired harvest we have for tomorrow!
what a weird harvest!


They’re all gone
towards a place in the north
where the grasses grow
to the height of their breasts
They left behind them tattered from their children’s
clothes and the pegs of their tents
They’re all gone
Their children on the backs of mules
Their youths carrying baskets
and their sheep’s bells
They were like a cloud climbing up to heaven
The more they penetrated the land
The more their shadows expanded
And returned towards the camps
Their dogs were mute
They surpasses the migration crowd, then they sit down
Their eyes watching
The moving shadows
As they ran backward
Like a dark river.

                    Translated by Lina Layyusi

Every thing

What wind, then, didn’t break my hands?
What gust didn’t fly off with my shirt?
Under what millstone wasn’t I a grain?

                    Translated by Lina Layyusi

Sun stroke

We were born of a sun stroke
of the stroke of scythe against wind
and of horn against stone
We threw the placenta to the dogs
and our soul into a pool of gloom
Like poor women we embroidered
our lips on the fabric of silence
Impure we went to the dawn prayer
to the rose
and memories of childhood
Sand is our grain
and sand is the horse's fodder
We climbed the sand gasping for breath
and worn out we came down
No evidence of our names
except an alphabet not cited in the dictionary
no evidence of our forbears
except the silence of dogs at the door
We got hitched to our shoelaces
and to the hair of eyelashes
and to the tails of comets
We crouched like dogs before the door
crouched cheerless before the rose
And the rose is the necked blood sacrifice of midday 
Our flour was strewn everywhere
and despair is an iron ring on our finger
Grant us respite so we may recognize our shadows
and our hooves may grow
A giant bell hangs over our head
a persistent bell makes us lose the way 
We pray to silence the great chime on the lips of our dead
Take us by the hand 
and the waist
hold us below our breasts
we are kin of smoke and fire
This is our finger 
wet to explore the wind
wounded by our endless questions
We fooled around with our names 
with our shirt buttonholes
and drove prayers like filthy swans in front of us
We hitched the donkeys to our children's ankles
and hitched autumn to summer 
to calm down our shivers
Call us from behind our rooms
call us with a scandalous voice that would shame us bare
call us with a voice that would rip apart our wood and bamboo
Lead our prayers so we may pray beyond the bound of duty
and our souls stand erect within our bodies
The bitter colocynth seeds are our lunch
our dinner is as dry as stone
and silence flows like menstrual blood between our legs
We pray to crush our kidney stones
and pray to break the bread of our supper
No immunity for the pebble
or the rose
all lie within the range of thunder
We were born of the inversion of the lip
and the eyelash
we were born of the stroke of horn against stone.

                    Translated  by Sharif Elmusa

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