From the Editors
The New York Times says Jadaliyya "Brings New Life to Arab Studies." Read about it by clicking here.
The Box of Pain
You were not there at daybreak
When patients, passengers and soldiers
Stretched their heads, bald or shaven,
Like tiny cottages in distant windows.
The boy passed the light fog
Which didn't stay long
Before the hospital gate
Where he found a pistol lying on the grass.
You were not there.
Now, you are a story
Being told in a place you are not in.
Your throat: that box of pain,
Is full of bones and feathers.
In the white of your eye
There is a blood dot, small and rusty,
Like a sun setting in the distance
Over a snowy field
Which was trampled
By long rows of hungry soldiers.
[Translated from the Arabic by Golan Haji & Kristina Stoltz]
Raise your eyes
to the cloud above your head:
it’s like the belly of an animal
you’d like to play with.
Snow in the shadow
covers a stone & crumbs of bread.
Do you hear the wind
between the blossoming peach branches?
Ah, you understand me?
It’s morning, the air is sharper than our eyes
and no one leaves any trace
in the mirror.
* * *
The sparrow that flew down from the washing-line recognized me without knowing my name. His legs were thinner than the line, weak but they served his needs well. I terrified him when I appeared & the terror took his wings high & away. He doesn’t differentiate between all of us who are called human; it’s the same whether it’s me or someone else since his shining eyes don’t feel safe with any of us. But I hate it that I keep watch over the name I was given to capture me, that I drag it & it drags me, and that it’s stuck to my face & has become part of my voice. Sometimes it seems strange to me when I read it or hear it, or it bores me & I detest it. Like everyone I have spent a long time imprisoning myself in my name, since all of us are buried alive, each in his own : a grave of fear & delight & misunderstanding.
[Translated from the Arabic by Golan Haji & Stephen Watts]
My thoughts are colder than your hand
Harder than a nipple which awoke between the teeth of a stranger.
A whiff of air will scatter me among the shadows
Where signs and vows glimmer,
The sleepless grow old,
And dishes get cold as do faces forgetting us.
When my hand passes the table like a slow straw cart
Then goes away, far from us, angry like us,
Leaving this handkerchief
And a sheet carrying your name
So you won't get lost if you go out.
[Translated from the Arabic by Golan Haji with Lauren Pyott]
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But in re-considering [Midnight’s Children] on the thirtieth anniversary of its publication, it is also worth thinking about some of the doors that have closed in the intervening three decades.click | email | tweet
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