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Khadija Gzaiel

Translated by Imene Bennani

جسدٌ لا يصلح

 

قال لي ناقدٌ إنّني لِأكتبَ الشّعرَ
عليَّ أنْ أحفرَ حفرةً وأقتلَ نفسي
لكنّني حفرْتُ حفرةً

لأدفِنَ كلَّ من قتلتُهم حتّى الأمسِ

لأبدأْ بأختي التي أغرقْتُ وأُغلقْ بابَ الذكرى 
ذاك الفتى الذي كتبَ اسمي على كلِّ أسوارِ الحيِّ

قتلتُه على نافذتي بخبطةِ طيرٍ

قتلتُ قطّي حينما انتقلتُ إلى العاصمةِ
كلمّا رنَّ الجرسُ
ماءَ مثل آلهةٍ تحتضرُ 
ظَلَّ يصفرُّ وييبسُ 
ثمَّ في ليلةٍ قَرَّةٍ ماتَ على كتبي

قتلْتُ جسدي منذُ زمنٍ
ظللْتُ ألبسُهُ وهو ميتٌ 
بالأمسِ القريبِ وضعتُه في فراشٍ أصفر
وكتبتُ عليه غير صالح بالمرّة!

A Useless Body

 

A critic told me

That if I want to write poetry

I should dig a hole

And kill myself

But I dug a hole

To bury all those I have killed

Until yesterday

Starting with my sister

Whom I drowned

Closed the door of memory

That boy who wrote my name

On all the neighborhood’s walls

I killed him with a bird’s stroke

I killed my cat when I moved to the capital

Whenever the doorbell rings

He meows like a goddess in agony

He kept yellowing and hardening

Until on a cold night, he died on my books.

I killed my body, a while ago

I kept wearing it while it was dead.

In the near past

I put it on a pale bed

And on it wrote:

“totally useless”

جرح عربيّ

 

لستُ مهتمةً بحسابِ السنواتِ الضوئيةِ بين الأرض والسّماء 
يشغلني الآن مركبُ صيدٍ على ضفافِ المتوسّط
وشجرةُ صنوبر خضراءَ تقطعها أيادٍ رمادية
تسمّي نفسها بمجلس الأمّة

يشغلني رأسُ القارة السّمراء 
وذاك الجزءُ التّائهُ في الشرقِ الأوسط
المتمادي به السّفر

 

يُحرِجني الموتُ والموتى في بلاد العرب
ولا أعرفُ
مَثلاً    لو قايضَتْني غَزّة بحُبّي ماذا أفعلُ!

An Arabic Wound

 

I am indifferent about counting the

Light years separating earth from sky

Now, I am busy thinking of a fishing boat

On the banks of the Mediterranean

And a pine tree

Cut by gray hands

Calling themselves 

The parliament

 

I am busy thinking of the

Dark continent’s horn

And that part, lost in the middle east

Persistently in travel

 

Death and the dead

In the Arab world, embarrass me.

And I do not know,

If Gaza barters with me

Over my love, for instance,

What would I do.

كْرِيشَندو متصدّع

 

ثلاثُ حبّاتٍ منوّمةٍ
عجزت عن جعلي أتكوّر
كسلعةٍ كاسدة
وذكرى حرب باردة 
أفرغَت رمادها في دمي 
وأصابتني بالبرود

سأسقطُ في الخطيئةِ وألعن طبيبةَ الأعصابِ
قالَتْ إنّ رأسي بخير
وبأني في غِنى عن الدواء ..
والآن 
كيف أبني بصوت هذا المنشار
بنايةً من سبعة عشر طابقا 
وقطاراً بخاريًّا وأغنيةَ حُبّ؟

A Cracked Crescendo

 

Three sleeping pills

Failed to let me roll up

Like an unsold commodity,

the memory of a cold war

Which emptied its ashes inside me

And made me feel cold

 

I will fall into sin

Curse the psychiatrist

She said my head is ok

That I do not need medicine

 

Now,

With this saw sound,

How shall I build a seventeen-flat building,

A steam train, and a love song?

kadija.jpg

Khadija Ghzaiel is a Tunisian poet and teacher of English literature. A published author in English and Arabic both in-print and online, she is former editor of Tanit Boat of poetry and former author at Med Voices. Some of her English poems appeared in Three-line poetry and Moorings Review. She has two published collections in Arabic: Rasāel Zinbaqah Sawdāa 2017 (Letters of a Black Lily) and Laāle Ibrahim 2019 (Abraham's Pearls). Khadija Ghzaiel currently lives in KSA.  

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Imene Bennani is assistant professor of English at the University of Sousse, Tunisia. She has contributed with poetry, reviews, interviews, and literary translations in different magazines including KNOT, Sukoon, nas Al-Jadid.