Tuesday, June 16, 2009

praying on red rugs

This is one of my favourite poems ever. It's by Adonis, translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa, and it appeared in the New Yorker a few years ago. Absolutely enchanting.

Celebrating Childhood

Even the wind wishes
to become a cart
pulled by butterflies.

I remember madness:
leaning for the first time
on the mind’s pillow,
I was talking to my body.

My body was an idea
I wrote in red.

Red was the sun’s most beautiful throne
and all the other colors
prayed on red rugs.

Night is another candle.

In every branch an arm,
a message carried in space,
echoed by the body of the wind.

The sun insists on dressing itself in fog
when it meets me:
am I being scolded by the light?

Oh, my past days,
they used to walk in their sleep
and I used to lean on them.

Love and dreams are two parentheses.
Between them I place my body
and discover the world.

Many times
I saw the air fly with two grass feet
and the road dance with feet made of air.

My wishes are flowers
staining my body.

I was wounded early,
and early I learned
that wounds made me.

I still follow the child
who walks inside me.

Now he stands at a stairway made of light
searching for a corner to rest in,
and to read the face of night.

If the moon were a house,
my feet would refuse to touch its doorstep.
They are taken by dust
carrying me to the air of seasons.

I walk,
one hand in the air,
the other in dreams.

A star is also
a pebble in the fields of space.

He alone
who is joined to the horizon
can build new roads.

What shall I say to the body I abandoned
in the rubble of the house
in which I was born?
No one can narrate my childhood
except those stars that flicker above it
and leave footprints
on the evening’s path.

My childhood is still
being born in the cupped palms of a light
whose name I do not know
and who names me.

Out of that river he made a mirror
and asked it about his sorrow.
He made rain out of his grief
and imitated the clouds.

Your childhood was a village.
You will never cross its boundaries
no matter how far you go.
His days are lakes,
his memories floating bodies.

You who are descending
from the mountains of the past,
how can you climb them again,
and why?

Time is a door
I cannot open.
My magic is worn,
my chants asleep.

I was born in a village,
small and secretive like a womb.
I never left it.
I love the ocean, not the shores.

1 comment:

  1. Magic, magic everywhere..

    Oh! This is just what I needed today!