Featured Poem

The Room of Darkness

la nuit seule dans ma voix
— Jean Senac

I am from darkness, my
homeland is an aging butterfly
my prayers are the desert.


I wash in rain’s spit,
in my prayers the sun
dances tip-toe.


My god on the brink of a death.
He the echo’s infra-violet.
He is a storm
that loves to talk.


I was born with a genetic defect,
one of twins: I
and solitude.
I shall give you all a sad heart,
a burst eye, a foot
with twenty toes
and other limbs left me
by my friend Time.


My father budded between sheets
of pouring rain, between
two moments of silence
from the widowed sky.

When I accepted him as a father
he made me paper angels
that I can beat easy
at hide-and-seek.


My father was the first volcano on earth
and our balcony axis of the swirling rain
at the beginning of a feast day.
Our balcony was a rowboat of tears
sometimes sunk in childish clamour.
Our balcony: a life that left  the city
and settled in a tub of imagination
In our new home
there is no balcony


I saw new accessories
worn by the earth
and I saw houses shed their doors
to disassociate themselves
from loved ones parting.


I saw cities abandon their inhabitants,
the train lines creaking
on their back
and weeping the river to bid farewell.


I feel blood vagrant
in my veins
I feel washrooms playing cards
atop my lighthouse head.


Words need someone
to scrub them with soap,
need looser clothes
and a stranger who won’t demand they smile.


In light
I see the darkness I see my god
I see time
I see you

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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Mona Kareem
Robin Moger
Original language:
2017 Number 2 - A Blossom Shroud

About the author

Original poet

Mona Kareem

MONA KAREEM is a poet-writer-translator based in New York. She is the author of three poetry collections. Her translations inc...

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Robin Moger

ROBIN MOGER is a freelance translator of Arabic with a particular interest in twentieth-century and contemporary prose and poe...

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