We agreed, the smoke and I,  to leave love’s memory in the ink-black Tigris

Language: Arabic
Poet: Bissan Abu Khaled
Translator: Francesca Bell and Noor Nader Al Abed

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We agreed, the smoke and I, to leave love’s memory in the ink-black Tigris

A poem by Bissan Abu Khaled translated from Arabic by Francesca Bell and Noor Nader Al Abed

Bissan Abu Khaled was born in Damascus where she studied medicine. She has worked in pathology in Brussels, and at the University of Liege, Belgium and Portland University in America. She is currently a cancer researcher in Brussels. Her poems have been published in Arabic and in French, and one of her poems formed the basis for a film about Palestinian refugees. She is the author of Cross to Wait Until.
Francesca Bell’s poems appear in many journals including B O D Y Literature, New Ohio Review, PANK, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, and Zone 3. Her work has been nominated eight times for the Pushcart Prize, and she won the 2014 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle. Her translations with Noor Nader Al Abed appear in Laghoo and are forthcoming in Berkeley Poetry Review.
Noor Nader Al Abed is Jordanian. He teaches English to 11th and 12th grade boys at a secondary school outside Amman. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Zarqa Private University and is currently working toward his master’s degree in English Literature at Arab Open University. His translations with Francesca Bell appear in Laghoo and are forthcoming in Berkeley Poetry Review.

The Orbit of a Possibility

While you search for something
everything makes me search for you
but you slip my pursuit like a phantom.
You mummify my longing with this absence
and leave my bags on the platform.
I abandon this train.
I had hoped you might come to me
but now I unfurl my sails
hoping you will be a wind to take me, perhaps to our port.
Caravans of travelers caught on layover
realize their dreams are shut up in an iron coffin.
I remain on land forgetting departure
knowing the desert is stupefied every year by the burgeoning palms.
Wishing you would come
I postpone age. I postpone my struggle
and let time butcher me in my prime.
No one knows why women die waiting for twilight.
Why men die murderous in their desire.
Yet we live to love, as two strangers long to cross paths on a city bus.
You know that you will come to the platform’s darkness
where my heart appears behind the train’s windows,
and you’ll wave to me in the last seconds.
I cannot step off. I cannot step in.
Eventually we will know what happened between us.
The heart will have no right to beat anymore.
I repine on my seat
and a strangeness passes over me, certifying my solitude,
certifying the many cigarettes I shared, stranded, waiting long with others.
Clouds of smoke filled our room, flying easterly against the westbound trains
and snatching my baggage as required. We agreed, the smoke and I,
to leave love’s memory in the ink-black Tigris.
It is the heart that comes and goes suddenly
no matter its beating now.
No, I will not hunt for your childish face in this billowing smoke.
I will just lay down my head on the shoulder of impossibility
and, after waiting for you, refuse to relinquish departure’s roughness.

مدار الصدفة

 وأنت  تفتش عن أي شيءٍ 
 سيجعلني كل هذا أفتش عنك َ
 و تهرب من خطوتي كالسرابْ
 تحنط شوقي بهذا الغياب ْ
وتترك أمتعتي فوق هذا الرصيف ِ
 أضيُّع ذاك القطارْ
 لعلك تأتي
 أضيُّع أشرعتي في البحارْ
 لعلك ريح ستأخدني نحو مينائنا  
تمر القوافل عبر المحطات ِ
هم يعرفون إلى أين تذهب أحلامهم ْفي نعوش الحديد ِ
 و أبقى على الارض أنسى مآل الرحيلْ
 و أعرف أن الصحارى يفاجئها كل عام بزوغ النخيلْ
 لعلك تأتي..
 أؤجل عمري أؤجل حربي
 وأترك للوقت أن يسفك الآن دهري
 ولا يعرفون لماذا النساء يمتن على شفق الانتظارْ
 لماذا الرجال يموتون في رغبة الاغتيال ْ
 ونبقى نحب تصالب دربين في الحافلة ِ
 و تعرف أنك سوف تجيء الى حلكة الارصفة ِ

وقد أصبح القلب خلف نوافذ هذا القطارْ
 تلوح لي في الثواني الاخيرة ِ
لا أستطيع الترجل لا تستطيع التوغل َ
 نعرف أن الذي حال بيني و بينك برهة ٌ
 ولا حق للقلب أن ينبض الانَ
 أني استويت على مقعدي
 يصادفني كل هذا الغريب ليشهد أني وحيدة ..
ويشهد أني تبادلت تبغاً مع العابرين
وتملأ حجرتنا سحب من دخان يسافر عكس اتجاه القطارات شرقا ً
 تناول أمتعتي عنوة و اتفقنا
 بأناسنترك ذاكرة القلب في كحل دجلة َ
 هوالحب يأتي و يرحل صدفة
 فلا شأن للقلب أن ينبض الان
لا لن أفتش عن وجهك الغر في مهرجان الدخان
 سألقي برأسي على كتف المستحيل
…ولن أتنازل بعد انتظارك عن عنفوان الرحيل