By Mariam Michtawi -Translated from Arabic by Jake Gordon --
1. The Temple
And the dream began...
I was walking in fear
That my legs would fail me,
Upon that journey,
The mage's journey...
Like parched earth
I wandered through your temple,
Taking my last supper
Upon your boat
I was counting my rosary
Bead by bead,
How I wished it could be longer...
I awoke every sunset
In the season of migration
I slept, and the dream began...
My soul spread its wings,
And a dove took flight,
This is my lover of lovers
2. The Visitor
When you choose to live my madness,
I will receive you as a spoilt child,
And place you in my garden,
To pick what pleases you
Of dreams of childhood
I will feed you candy floss,
Sonnets of flowery, sugary dreams
Together, we will colour the heavens with a rainbow,
And break through the borders of your impossibility
We will soar with coloured balloons,
I will snatch some of your sweets,
And not return them to you
No, I will not remove you from the world of Sesame,
Of Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast
You will not awake Sleeping Beauty with a kiss,
And we will not return
No, we will not return...
Do you know when I became a nymph?
The day I came into contact with your equator...
The fires circled my planet,
And I found nothing before me, but the pleasure of diving
Into your red sea
And now here I stand, a nymph of every colour,
Caressing your coral reef...
O man from Latakia...
The sad streets of your town
Have gathered in your cases
What remains of their burnt boughs,
Then beckoned to you in farewell...
Like the rest of the dead, have departed
Whilst in your calm eyes,
The night begs for life
And in the silence of your tears,
A beach moves to and fro,
Choking upon each wave
There are boats with no direction,
A harbour, and the faces of all those who stand upon it
Are that of my grandmother,
And all the hands are hers
O man from Latakia...
Before she left, my grandmother gifted to you
Her white veil,
That you might return...
5. Whispering To You
Far away from my memory I limped,
Of our painful moments,
And began to contemplate the sky
We started to rain together,
And its stars began
To open like eyes,
Speaking to me, between slumber and waking
Then I made my way towards them,
In my intoxication,
Whilst whispering to you
6. The Ceremonies Of Farewell
Life has compelled me to master the ceremonies of farewell, that I might convince you that I am well. It has taught me to fear the heat beneath your lace cap, to freeze our touches and bury them in satin gloves. It has taught me how to be in love with you in secret, behind the black looks, whilst following my arrogant path in the opposite direction...
*Mariam Michtawi ( Arabic: مريم مشتاوي) is a Lebanese Syrian poet, writer and teacher born in Beirut from a Syrian American father and a Lebanese mother. In 2013 Mariam was confronted with the tragic loss of her young child diagnosed with cancer, this separation deeply affected her writings and inspired her to support and fundraise for children having cancer.
Mariam currently lives in London and teaches Arabic language at SOAS
(School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London where she exposes her students to poetry and contemporary Arab art.