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Articles tagged "Ritual"

Scale and Stairs

If you climbed up the back stairs to the church a piano stood like a sad black animal in a corner of the nave. The child reflected in the black sheen of the piano opened the cover and cautiously began to play. Though her hands were too small to thaw the frozen keyboard, the sound rising into the cold air of the church was incense for a ten-year-old to burn. The back door opened, and when the deacon and his old mother entered she shut the cover and walked down the stairs....

The Rooster’s Egg: A Fable of Ancient Thebes

It is hard not to read this story as a lesson about the arbitrary nature of power and attendant reversals of fortune. Some historical background: Akhenaten, originally Amenhotep IV (1353-1335 B.C.), was the "heretic" pharaoh who officially rejected the traditional Egyptian pantheon, and instituted a new, monotheistic religion, centering on the worship of the sun disk, Aten. However, as modern Egyptians reading this would know, the priests of Amun in fact got the last laugh: after...

When Clothes Were Small

NOTE: This poem is taken from a debut collection published in 2005, entitled Yesterday I Lost A Button. All of the poems in the book revolved around clothes-their personalities, their memories, and their desires. Only 24 years old at the time of the book's well-received publication, Fathy is a promising new name in Egyptian poetry. Neither thread had a desire to couple but they were forced and out of that union fabrics were born to a traditional, arranged marriage the...

Mrs. Saniya’s Holiday

Under the beam of light that fell from the one window of the room, darkening the rest of this particular place, Abla Saniya, the seamstress, starts up her machine aware of making use of the last thread of daylight before darkness takes over the room. Abla Saniya turns on the electric light whose cord comes through the same window, for which she pays five pounds every month and which she takes great care in collecting, since her income melts into the smiles of her youngsters and the...

Campo Santo

Translator's Note: Campo Santo, from which this chapter is taken, is a collection of prose pieces and essays never before published in book form, though most have appeared in journals. "Campo Santo" itself was found among Max Sebald's papers after his death by his German publisher Michael Krüger, who gave a reading of it at a W.G. Sebald Memorial Day in London on 31 January 2003. It is one of the four essays on Corsica-one very short, three longer-that open the book. The rest...

Meralda

Just as the sun rises every day, giving its light to the earth, so day after day, year in, year out, we Roma travel on, without knowing where we are headed but following the road that lies before us. A people of the road! Always our heart sings its sorrow in the teardrop of a song from beneath our soles, from the very earth. Grass blades turn green, trees' buds adorn themselves under the blue gaze of the sky, the world blossoms from the green of the leaf to the red of...

The Chaldean Ruins

Ascetic he emerges from its belly to the grave. His days are not entered on the calendar and he does not gather the things that are scattered. Earthquakes do not shake him nor wink at death without him. Was he born before the earth or after her wails? A wind blew by and did not shake the tree. They said: It was no wind but his sighing. He is the unsettled Chaldean and it was no tree but the elongated roots of his village. Dried out he releases water into the fields then...

from The Asylum Seeker

One evening, after weeks of something like forty jars of vitamins and dozens of liters of strawberry juice, the Bird asks: "Would you mind if I got married?" In that marrying, Beck sees his enemy's final victory. They were man and wife already, without having to get married. "Why?" he asks. "Why get married? It's been fine, it will keep being fine for years." "Not to you," she says, "to someone else." Someone else, two words that pretty much sum up their relationship. It...

Two Poems

The Oracles of the Virgin Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.--Oscar Wilde Buried inside us were the sounds of the words our parents managed to utter in the moment of intercourse before they fell silent at the wonder of budding life. Buried inside us were the sounds of the songs we heard in the cradle before our mothers had forgotten the oracles of the Virgin. Buried inside us were the sounds of the grinding of...

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