Thursday, January 6, 2022

Widow by Vénus Khoury-Ghata


The first day after his death
she folded up her mirrors
put a slipcover on the spider web
then tied up the bed which was flapping its wings to take off
The second day after his death
she filled up her pockets with wood chips
threw salt over the shoulder of her house
and went off with a tree under each arm
The third day after his death
she swore at the pigeons lined up along her tears
bit into a grape which scattered its down in her throat
then called out till sunset to the man gone barefoot
into the summer pasture in the cloudy mountains
The fourth day
a herd of buffalo barged into her bedroom
demanding the hunter who spoke their dialect
she shouldered her cry
shot off a round
which pierced the ceiling of her sleep
The fifth day
shoe-soles of blood imprinted themselves on her doorstep
she followed them to that ditch where everything smells of boned hare
The sixth day after his death
she painted her face with earth
attacked the peaceful shadows of passers-by
slit the throats of trees
their colorless blood evaporated when it touched her hands
The seventh day
stringy men sprouted in her garden
she mistook them for poplars
bit the armpits of their branches
and lengthily vomited wood-chips
The eighth day
the sea whinnied at her door
she washed her belly's embankments
then called down to the river's mouth
where men clashed together like pebbles
The ninth day
she dried her tears on the roof between the basil and the budding fog
gazed at herself in stones
found cracks in her eyes like those in a church's stained glass
The tenth day
he surged up out of her palm
sat down on her fingernail
demanded her usual words to drink and the almond odor of her knees.
He swallowed them without pleasure
on his journey he'd lost the taste for tortured water
(translated by Marilyn Hacker)

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