New Poetry: Four by Aya Nabih, tr. Sara Elkamel

After I quit my job and extracted all the clocks from my room, I noticed that the large clock had left a barren space on the wall—one you could stare into in the absence of infuriating hands. I have been staring into the wasteland this room has become since this morning, thinking how great it is that my anxiety is gone, but I don’t know what to do now with a house without a tree, and birds that will never again chirp, and a window locked out of terror. * Nabih’s work also appears in The Tahrir of Poems (2014), ed. New Poetry: Four by Aya Nabih, tr. Sara Elkamel is a poet and journalist currently based in Cairo. But if you should take one step away, I will take two, and if you should take two, I will murder you with a clear conscience. The knives I am hiding in a safe place, and I inspect their sharpness from time to time, only when I am feeling sad; meanwhile, you stay exactly where you are, savoring the sight of my love decomposing. Now, an equal distance separates us. Today, I experiment with the terror that barrenness has spawned. Remains of roots and yellow leaves are all they left behind. The blood I will not agonize over removing. Since then, everything seemed normal, except for time, which no longer seemed at all. Sometimes, I am nothing but my thoughts. What could I expect, now that the barrenness I spent a lifetime raising like a child—to the extent that I used to call “getting rid of things” a hobby—had become my enemy? I have made the necessary preparations. Then I pushed the drawer shut on the origami birds. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Cairo University and MA in Audiovisual Translation from Hamad bin Khalifa University. She was an artist-in-residence in Marrakech, Casablanca and New York, as part of a dance and poetry residency organized by Tamaas. Maged Zaher. She translated Lydia Davis’s collected short stories Varieties of Disturbance into Arabic, and her poetry collection Exercises to Develop Insomnia Skills has been published by Al-Kotob Khan. I began to excise the furniture and gadgets from the room, as though I was practicing the art of letting go, until it was empty of everything but the bed, and the old wooden desk after I had arranged its drawers to match the barrenness. The hours seem fossilized but something is urging me to believe that yesterday, my bedroom ceiling did not hang this low. * Selected and translated by Sara Elkamel Resection The tree that used to stand in front of our house was chopped down last night, on account of road renovations. * Aya Nabih is a translator and writer born in Cairo. I have a place here in the yellow room and from my position I can see the plastic flowers above the fridge resembling death… (Perhaps these flowers smile when the sky happens to rain over the vase.) I am here—without a doubt— how could “I” be there? The colored cellophane paper I will wrap around you occupies a designated corner in the room. Sara Elkamel August 22, 2022August 21, 2022 by Leonie Rau For Women in Translation Month (#WiTMonth), four poems, newly translated by poet-translator Sara Elkamel, by poet-translator Aya Nabih. Deconstruction The fossilized hours are as harsh as a wall, are like my poems: pointless. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading… For that reason, O world, let me become outraged at you for a while—for your distance. The poems appear in Nabih’s poetry collection Exercises to Develop Insomnia Skills, published by Kotob Khan Books in 2015. I am here; no one else. But today, it seems that everything around me is giving me a taste of my own medicine, and banishing me. I have discarded days in the wastebasket to make room for barrenness, and I seriously considered setting them on fire, to do my part in making the world a lighter place. When my left hand aches the right hand moves to console it like a cat licking its young in the winter. She holds an MA in arts journalism from Columbia University and an MFA in poetry from New York University. Your dawdling delays my rapture, which begins on fast roads. And outside the open window is a still-life; a night and a white, paper circle that hides nothing but a scant slice of blackness. Complications of Love If I lean against the bedroom wall someday, mourning the passage of time, I will despise my thoughts—absolutely all of them. and tr. She is the author of the chapbook Field of No Justice (African Poetry Book Fund & Akashic Books, 2021). The room is yellow, the night is a lakebed, the moon is like my poems:pointless. Side Effects An excessive sensitivity towards life, with the possibility of cavities appearing on the walls of memory… The cavities widen every time the afflicted is exposed to nostalgia. I had opened its three drawers a few days earlier, and taken out inkless pens; books I had intended to read; boxes of Ketophan that had failed to free me of my headaches; an old hole-punch; a faded photograph, cut out arbitrarily, of Abdelhalim—specifically, his portrait in the polka-dotted shirt; satin ribbons that will have no use; jars of empty watercolors, and old letters from my friends that would stay up all night in the desk-drawer, and force me to keep them company.

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