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Two Poems by Raji Bathish (translated by Suneela Mubayi)

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Maybe, were I to die

 
You will cry alone, a little
between a ski holiday
and a wine party
so that your tears fall
on your pristine, sterilized dining table
and you do not find dust to dance with
You cry a lot
and remember me a little
in permitted doses that are not harmful
you remember how many hairs there were on the fragility of my chest
and how fast your sweat
and other fluids
dripped down to my bellybutton
and how many ants were strutting around to commemorate you
 
Maybe, were I to die
you will recall the past of your scared, trembling white hand
that has become wooden and coarse
as it needlessly presses down on my belly for no reason
as if my belly, with all its softness
carried all the tenderness and sweetness of this universe
to steal it
if i were to die
 
 
 

Debasement

 
I open my eyes at dawn
 
with extreme quiet
 
at four o’clock in the morning…for instance
 
when your neighbor awakes
 
and I smell the aroma of coffee
 
before she goes to visit those languishing
 
in the graves of time
 
or what remains of it
 
to scatter, before that, their shadows over the window
 
in front of me…
 
in front of us…
 
While facing me reposes the thought of you prostrate
 
Your blue eyes open with difficulty
 
You are worn out by conditional clauses, hamzas [glottal stops] and tanwin markers [case endings]
 
Your eyes give off a thin smile…of lethal beauty
 
Here is the voice of the adhaan
 
adorning the slap of sleeplessness
 
————
 
I launch my hand, on which the dust of sleep has not yet accumulated
 
to draw from your tenderness…before morning
 
And here are my lips
 
and the lips of the idea of you
 
The halos of the endings of dreams have not yet formed around them
 
With my lips I come near you
 
Towards that hot cheek
 
that has not cooled
 
yet
 
I kiss your lower lip…with my tongue, then the upper one
 
The first sparrow in Creation after the Obliteration
 
awakens
 
Your neighbor or aunt returns from visiting her dead
 
It is unimportant
 
She scatters seeds at my edge
 
I explore the eyelids of the thought of you anew
 
The sounds of the day emanate from the garbage truck
 
———
 
I touch the tiny hairs surrounding the bellybutton of absurdity
 
The sweat of debasement has dissipated after some hours
 
My body has no memory of when it embraced the thought
 
at night
 
I give off hurtful breaths while I contemplate the ceiling ornamented with absence
 
I adore the smell of this blanket.
 
I turn towards your grandmother’s closet crammed with the questions of the dead and their fragrances
 
I come across the blueness of your eyes, smiling with a futile geniality to no avail
 
where they will be worn out by conditional clauses, hamzas and tanwin markers [case endings]
 

 
We sleep together
 
A long while
 
A cold sweat slithers towards my pubic hair
 
A sweat that suits that time
 
Then, the voice of the peddler of gold teeth
 
 
 
__________________________________
 
imageRaji Bathish (1970) was born in Nazareth where he currently resides. He has published eight books, which include poetry, short stories and hybrid “open” texts, including A Room in Tel Aviv (Beirut, 2008), Land-Confusion-Sea (Amman, 2011) and most recently This is How Rosa Played (Haifa, 2013) and as well as numerous articles on sexuality, cinema and literature in several Arabic newspapers and portals, including al-Akhbar, al-Quds al-Arabi and Jadaliyya. He was one of the editors for the Queeriyat section on the Palestinian cultural portal Qadita, one of the first Arabic cultural portals to dedicate exclusively to queer writing and is currently one of the co-editors ofAnboob, a portal dedicated to publishing experimental writing that breaks down barriers between literary genres and to challenging the moral authority on culture imposed by the Arab regimes. He currently teaches Palestinian cinema in the Israeli National Open University.
 
imageSuneela Mubayi is a graduate student in modern Arabic Literature at NYU. She has translated poems, short stories and essays between Arabic, English and Urdu, which have been published inBanipal, Beirut39, Jadaliyya and elsewhere. Her dream is to go from Turkey till the border of China without having to use English, and to be able one day to call herself a poet.

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