This never happened in my parents’ house, definitely not among those I thought knew me
My life, which I have always failed to touch, to find a picture that brings us together, is next to me on the same bed. It opens its eyes after a long coma, stretches like a princess confident that her father’s palace is protected from thieves, that happiness is under the skin despite the wars which never sleep
That life into which more than one father crammed his ambition, more than one mother her scissors, more than one doctor their sedatives, more than one freedom fighter their sword, more than one institution its stupidity, and more than a poetic school its conception of poetry. My life which I dragged behind me from city to city, gasping for breath as I trailed it, running from school to library and from kitchen to bar, from the nai to the piano and from Marx to museums, from my memory of how a body smelled to the dream of an airport lounge, from all that I don’t know to all that I don’t know. My life, which I failed even to make sure existed, next to me on the same bed. It opens its eyes after a long coma, stretches like a princess confident that her father’s palace is protected from thieves, that happiness is under the skin despite the wars which never sleep
In this way I woke up in a strange land the morning I reached forty, and if not for the fact that God never sent women messengers, I would have thought it was the first sign of Prophecy; and if not for my own temperament, I would have cited the words of Mahmoud Darwish about a woman who enters her fortieth year in all of her “apricotness”, or the words of Milosz about the door that opened inside him through which he entered
Before me is a line of dead people who died perhaps because I loved them, houses in which to have insomnia that I kept cleaning devotedly on holidays, presents I did not open when they arrived, poems I was robbed of line by line, so much so that I doubt they belong to me, men I did not meet until the wrong time, and asylums of which I remember only the iron bars on the windows. Before me is my whole life, so much so I could hug it if I wanted to, I could even sit on its knees singing, or wailing
One of five poems by Iman Mersal translated by Youssef Rakha and published in Banipal 38 – Arab American Authors.