Sculpture by Chahine Raffoul

[This is the second in a series of poems translated from the Arabic of George Nicolas El-Hage’s If You Were Mine. For the first installment, and information about the poet, click here.]

Exile

My unbelief and sins and faith
And black cares watch over me
September and March come
And I am in my room, collapsing
A nightmare wears my sorrows …

It comes to me also, comes to me
News, my dark one, threw me
Into your eyes’ hollow it threw me …

Other years I wait
December and January …

The room swells in my breast
I die slowly …

The room swells in my breast
I live through seasons, unaware,
That exile is my country.

CHARIOT OF LIGHT

Come, taming woman
Wipe the misery
Off my life and my sails
For I have crushed almonds and sugar
I have love, nothing more.
God knows,
My violet
If it were in my power
I would offer precious jewels
Fill my treasure-house with pearls
And marble
Buy for you all the red velvet
But all I have
IS crushed almonds and sugar
And I have love, nothing more …

Return, torturing woman
To the heart that reached the
Shores where it only saw
Your black eyes, nothing more …

Enough, torturing woman
An age has passes
Yet older I have not become …
Only yesterday I loved you
Only yesterday decided
To see the night in your eyes …

Come, torturing woman
Wipe the misery
Off my life and my sails …
My windows are clouded
Birds of desire visit me,
Murdering themselves ,
Over my chambers …

Come, torturing woman
Pull out the thorns of love you planted within me
Inflamed words
Stifle in my throat,
Choke me, curse me …
My heart succumbs to groans
Spit out from my lips …
The vision of your face approaches,
Pursues me, destroys me,
Sleeps with me,
Agonizes me …

On awakening I see it
Inscribed upon my books,
Imaged on my mirror,
Over the folds of my towel …
When I soar across the ocean of love
It is emblazoned above my chariot …

Release me, torturing woman
How long will your assailing love
Insist on stalking me,
Embracing me,
While your footsteps
Traverse the earth searching
For a man my father’s years
With a forged heart
Who would lay between your small breasts
The universe, glittering gold …

Farewell, torturing woman
If I had it in my power
I would offer gems
Fill my treasure-house with pearls
And marble
Buy for you all the red velvet …
But all I have
Is crushed almonds and sugar
And love, nothing more.