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from the March 2013 issue: Spain's Great Untranslated

In the Doorway of My Friend’s House

على باب بيت صديقي

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

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


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