Lock-in Literature: Zakaria Tamer’s ‘The Flower’

It yearned for sun and rain, for the blue sky and the wind, and for years it crept slowly upward. Marilyn Hacker is the author of more than a dozen books. The man tried to protect his body with his skinny roughened hands, but the knives pursued him, attacked him till he fell like a dry leaf from a tree. The little girl cried out, fierce and determined: Put me to the test! It dropped the flower and retreated back to the darkness under the earth. Her translations from Arabic (of Zakaria Tamer, Golan Haji, Fadwa Suleiman and Yasser Khanjer) have appeared in   PN Review,   Agni,   Prairie Schooner Modern Poetry in Translation, The Paris Review, Words Without Borders, POEM, Critical Muslim, ArabLit Quarterly,   and   A Public Space. And you’ll see that I’m better than my mother, and you’ll pay me more than you pay her! They pressed their bodies together, green grass and red roses, fire and blood, but the knives appeared quickly beside them. The woman exclaimed, feigning protest: There are five of you! You’ll exhaust me! They sat down on a carpet spread near the rough, skinny hand. The hand’s call and the man’s cry ran down the noisy streets, searching all the houses, house by house, then they disappeared, ashamed. At that moment, five men arrived, accompanied by a woman and a girl not more than ten years old. He was buried in a green thicket. Huda Fakhreddine
Belal Fadl’s 2007 satire “Into the Tunnel,” tr. Nashwa Gowanlock
Bushra Fadil’s ‘Phosphorus at the Bottom of a Well.’   tr. Adil Babikir
‘Eyes Shut’ by Rami Tawil, tr. The hand’s strength weakened and its fingers almost lost their grip on the flower, but they held on to it stubbornly. #
Zakaria Tamer is a Syrian author who has published eleven short story collections, two collections of satirical articles, and numerous children’s books. The call mixed with a cry unloosed one day in the throat of a man who had been thrown to the ground, his chest and his mouth stained with blood. The woman had laughed, and whispered gaily: We’ll do what we like, and let my family say what they will! The rough skinny hand shuddered. Lock-in Literature: Zakaria Tamer’s ‘The Flower’

This lock-in Monday, as part of our ongoing series of stay-at-home literature, a short story by Syrian writer Zakaria Tamer that appeared, in Marllyn Hacker’s translation, in our first issue of   ArabLit Quarterly:
The Flower
By Zakaria Tamer
Translated by Marilyn Hacker
There was a skinny roughened hand buried in the dirt. Her   translations of French and Francophone poets include books by   Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Habib Tengour and Rachida Madani. Karim Zidan
Ali el-Makk’s ‘Forty-One Minarets’,   tr. Mustafa Adam
‘A Street in the Pandemic’ & Other Poems by Jawdat Fakhreddine, tr. The skinny roughened hand remembered the woman who had a body made of ever-trembling white stars. His works have been translated into many languages, with three collections in English: Tigers on the Tenth Day, The Hedgehog, and Breaking Knees. Its trembling fingers groped along the earth’s surface and grew solid the moment they touched and held a flower. The woman said: That my daughter help me. One of the men said: What do you suggest? He was awarded the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award in literature, the Cairo Award for the Arabic Short Story, and the Mahmoud Darwish Award for Literature. It staggered, a strange pallid plant, drunk with light, air and voices, impatient to forget the darkness underground. His torn bloody flesh was absorbed bit by bit in the earth, but the rough, skinny, desiring hand stayed alive. The man had laughed, and said: We’ll live as we please, and we won’t pay attention to anyone. A strange, impetuous tenderness suffused the hand and desire breathed through its veins, calling out to a breast that had been the most beautiful white flower. #
Other translations in our stay-at-home series:
Lock-in Limited Release: Naguib Mahfouz’s ‘The Man in the Picture’, tr. Nariman Youssef
To support the   ongoing work of ArabLit and   ArabLit Quarterly,   consider buying an issue for yourself or a friend, or helping us out by donating through Patreonor PayPal, or, if you have one, by   asking your institution to take out a   subscription to the magazine. She lives in Paris. Her awards include the National Book Award, the 2009 American PEN award for poetry in translation, and the international Argana Prize for Poetry from the Beit as-Sh’ir/ House of Poetry in Morocco in 2011. The man said: But she’s a child. It took on the color of its own spilt blood, and for a long time it was ravaged by fierce pain, but it never abandoned its effort until it was able to burst from the dust like a sudden small explosion. What will I do with you?