In preview of Rachida Madani‘s reading tonight at 6:30 at Silvana 300 W 116th street in New York, here is a poem I just translated for the event from her collection Femme je suis / Woman I am.
Walk through the ruins
that wreck us
and tell yourself that we’re camping
in a crumbling of stones
even if no denunciation
transfers from the sand
to accumulate dune upon dune
storm upon storm
all the way to the fusion of sand with blood
where the desert ends,
where the dancing corpses of the desert
stop troubling our sleep
sucking our blood crazed with the damned
between two assassinations
two traps at the corner of a dark street
where we are tellers of legends
braiding our discoveries in a network of
communicable via contagions of ruins.
We have never come to terms with the desert
we have let camels run loose in it hostile
to the rough sketch of fake towns
built on mirages
where everyone is buried in their metallic
serves them as compass
all seeing their city according to their mirages.
Walk all the way to the sonorous extremity of the desert
that serves as a link
between errancy and the right to be a human.
We are nomads until worn down,
have neither tent
nor palm tree
nor rest halt in the
desert’s monstrous night.
Have neither language nor hope
to listen to our bristling voices
on top of the walls
no dream to lose
no throne to gain
barely a scarlet foam
the result of a long march…
I want you without hope
when you knock on my door
and my door’s caught red-handed
in its absence,
when all I do is stroll
through my obsession
when time brings back to me
and sand only sand.
But in what cut up fiber inside me
in what abrasion to locate you
when I love you and walk
apart from you
because of too many fractures
through a rugged landscape where you persist
in the erasures’ meanders
facing the ruins.
a knife between the teeth
irrefutable beneath the lightning storm to witness
against what harrows us with a razor
and the crowd you love
beyond the infinite disaster.
The crowd for which you build trenches
on your very flesh
for which you hallucinate
pupils of towns issues of your wounds
and the bloody poems
that slash us
in the desert’s immobility, the crowd.
The crowd made drowsy by a tired
muwashaha, dead deep inside a palace
one booze-sodden night,
that separates us the splinter-crowd,
I sense the haggard beast
that turns a beastly thought
for having one day by chance
— certainly —
caught a raging toothache
and that started to chase its tail
all the way into schizophrenia the crowd…
I am double and unable
to understand why the crowd.
Walk you know how mortal
I carry us wounded, at death’s door
to the center of the nightmare
where I love you while selecting the crowd
with my voice crossing out all the closed furrows
that obstruct the walk.
I love you.
It’s a broken tendon
it’s a blocked breath
it’s a strange night
like an exploding vein
I pick up in a sprain
for which I’ll blame
an imagination beyond the possible
if it weren’t this blood itself
this piece of evidence
that acquits me of all imagination
of all sarcasm
and when I say blood
I think of nothing but this country
that I place nowhere
except there where I am arterial blood pressure
of certain death
from my head down to the public squares.
At any rate an intuition
that turns into clandestinity
in my bone marrow
and spreads the plague.
I love you and am not in the process
of singing love
I don’t need to encumber myself with a chant.
I do not know how to sing when it’s a matter of
ruins that furrow me.
I howl a country that transpierces me my
body from one end to the other
that pulverizes me
that hurls a desert in my face.
I am encumbered by a distress
ring after ring
that ends up chaining me
to the dialectic of ruins
only then do I see
do I understand how much my head
is bowl of blood,
how much we need to walk, to march
even half crazed
hallucinating in the glass night
with the crowd.
I tell you march and I march
neither you nor I
have hated enough
have sowed enough bacilli of the damned
across these towns.
March you have never left me
you will never leave me
as long as there is this semblance of a country
that we want at all costs to be ours
even at the risk of ending up unidentified in the desert’s
for all of this earth’s plague-stricken
love is the desert’s