Othman Hussain

Two Poems
Translated by Tristan Cranfield


In my condition
I lay my heavy head on the pillow of noon
A faceless whirlwind brushes your frail body
I shudder holding my heavy head
waiting for a cause-scream
Things explode in themselves
and become still
so I fall down exhausted in the labyrinth of chaos
swimming in the coma of ignorance.
And in my condition
the evening approaches the dreamers’ expectations
it weaves evil in our sullied space
for a dreamer
who has not drowned as he ought

The evening approaches, you planes approaching your zenith
The combine harvesters are groans and songs
Slow down
We’ll leave for our siege
to relax a little from the hardship of death in my condition
A good evening like dreamers expect
The sleeping women firmly believe that the place is safe
under the house’s staircase
they are sleeping
they are leaving me
I watch the east fearful and smiling
Perhaps the monsters are crawling about this evening
and perhaps I have really made a prediction:
Stop, monsters
The planes will pass over our space
to pluck out our night’s little eye
and spit in face of the universe their imprecation

Good grief
Why are you groaning?
Before long they will pass and show us which way to pray
and a heap of directions
they will blow into our souls the scents of death
and will go on
Now come forward, monsters
The streets are narrow
and narrow are our dreams
Our circumstances are in a bottle neck stuffed with a nightmare banished
from dream heaven
and also
tasty is our flesh and sumptuous
Come forward, monsters
for I’m fed up with my fear.


The boy screams: Stop
He gets up alright and steps forward cautiously like a blind man
[Nothing calls for that]
I whisper:
Only now will I fall on my way to the first street in Asia*

Rafah can’t cope with a new blind man
A strongly featured blackness keeps him awake
A careless woodsman drags him from the haze
behind our ageing galaxy

[In truth,
moving towards the attraction that lies behind appearance has its rewards]
The pavement is ready for the pedestrians
Nothing falls
not even the calls of the sellers circulating in my alley
...but it’s getting nearer
I enter the gate of the haze
And with both hands
The guard of the darkness slaps my ears
The wall
is getting nearer
leaning on my faltering step
and from now on:
how many times will I see you swallow the noon’s darkness and gnaw on
the flaccidity of the night?
And how many times will I see by chance
you sweeping away my fall with that delicacy
you whispering the journey that has been
thrown on the shoulders of time
you pushing my friend the wall
so I enter stretching out my wretched arms hovering amid the uproar.

*Mamarr al-Fātiḥīn: The street that divides the town of Rafah into two halves: one Palestinian and one Egyptian, the gateway to Asia and the dividing line between two continents, where I live.

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