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Poems by Gihan Omar

by Gihan Omar

Translated from Arabic by Mandy McClure

I Am Not a Whole Garden

Like a flower
I let the bees rest on my face.
I feel their nimble feet
Crowding my cheek.
I stop,
Avoid any command
To my body:
Only celebrate that moment
In silence.
I watch it
Crawling down to my neck.
They sting me;
With kindness they suck my nectar.
I hide behind their violent desires.
I like my eyes now
Their movements confirm my existence
And allow me to see more
Of their comings…longings;
The boldest of them
Slide into a narrower passage
Between my breasts.
At night,
I sneak to the kitchen:
Open a jar of honey
With hidden pride,
Fill a teaspoon
And start to taste myself.


Journey to the Oases

I met her
Burying her remains in the sand
With a practiced, light hand,
Like a woman who died
three years past.
Has the desert grown on you?
I asked.
She nodded.
From mountain caves
Came intermittent moans,
And it occurred to me
That some might not reach
their summit
Because they choose
the wrong ghosts,
For as you know
Things become more difficult
When the body’s alchemy vanishes.
The cans of yellow corn
Emptied by the guide
Atop his chickens, roasted
On an open flame,
Fail to delight
My shivering heart;
I warmed it
With more clothes.
For her part
The slim girl proposed
Dancing ‘til the morning
To keep the foxes away
From the food’s scent.
The fire slowly died down
When faced with
her smooth moves
Then it flared up,
Suddenly,
In the bodies stretched out
In sleeping bags.


Habits

I am silent as a rock,
Bursting like a fountain,
Am polluted by gossip;
I speak with clouds I love
And pull my head back
Like a turtle into my body;
I am getting smaller as an ant.
I whisper to the sand like an ostrich
And cleanse myself
from sinful acts
With waves.
I rest on my mother’s grave
Like a dove with no memory.
Like a child I demand more;
Regretful, I am content with little.
I change colors like a chameleon,
Rebel like a scarlet woman,
Take refuge in a cat’s embrace,
And settle matters like a man.
I have no need for food
Like an ascetic;
I am liberated from clothes
Like a professional stripper.
I cry upon the butterfly’s wings
Crumbling in my palm.
I climb the mountain like a nomad,
I run like a startled gazelle
And am still like a lion asleep.
I end the poem,
Its intent –
Unnoticed.

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