I stopped in the doorway of my friend’s house
And my palm was glued to the doorbell
But my finger trembled, too weak to arouse
A desire to ring in its wires
I wavered. The road to his house had been long
And between the two of us and his morning cups
Of coffee, more than ten years.

His little brother: he finished copying out his lessons.
Their neighbor: perhaps she hadn’t prolonged her visit
After his sister May had finished
Putting on her dress, and she had turned back
To raise the curtains

And if the door opened, said affection
I bowed my head . . . 
What if their door had opened and I found them changed?
Come, I’ll show you two silences in the doorway: a silence ringing
And a silence hanging 

© Abdelkader al-Hosni. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.

على باب بيت صديقي وقفتُ

وعلّقتُ كفي على جرس البابِ

لكنّ نبضاً بأنملتي كان أفْتَرَ من أن يثير

بأسلاكه شهوةً للرنين.

تلبّثتُ.. كان الطريق إليه طويلاً

وما بيننا عن فناجين قهوته في الصباحاتِ

بضعٌ وعشرُ سنينْ


أخوه الصغير: انتهى من كتابة درس القراءةِ

جارتهم: ربما لم تطل في الزيارةِ

من بعدما فرغت أخته (ميُّ) من

لبس فستانها، واستدارتْ

لرفع الستارةِ


لو يُفْتَحُ البابُ، قال الحنينْ


ماذا لو انفتح البابُ عنهم، فألفيتُهمْ آخرينْ؟

تعال أريكَ على الباب صمتينِ: صمتاً يرنُّ

وصمتاً يرينْ


Abdelkader al-HosniAbdelkader al-Hosni

Abdelkader al-Hosni is a Syrian poet.

Translated from ArabicArabic by Marilyn HackerMarilyn Hacker

Marilyn Hacker is the author of twelve books of poems, including Names (Norton, 2009), Essays on Departure (Carcanet Press, UK, 2006), and Desesperanto (Norton, 2003). Her essay collection Unauthorized Voices was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2010. Her twelve volumes of translations from the French include Rachida Madani's Tales of a Severed Head (Yale University Press, 2012); Marie Etienne’s King of a Hundred Horsemen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), which received the 2007 Robert Fagles Translation Prize and the 2009 American PEN Award for Poetry in Translation; Hédi Kaddour’s Treason (Yale University Press, 2010); and Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s Nettles (The Graywolf Press, 2008). For her own work, she is a past recipient of the Lenore Marshall Award, the Poets’ Prize, the National Book Award , two Lambda Literary Awards, the American PEN Voelcker Award for poetry in 2010, and the Argana International Poetry Prize from the Bayt As-Shir/ House of.Poetry in Morocco in 2012. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.