Clouds

By Unsi al-Hajj

Clouds, O clouds
O sighs of dreamers behind windows
Clouds, O clouds
Teach me the joy of evanescence!

*****

Does a man love in order to mourn or to rejoice, does he embrace in order to end or to begin? I am not asking in order to be answered, but in order to shout in the prisons of knowledge. No man can find relief without prior clouds, nor can he achieve victory without prior payment of tribute. I don’t know who dealt out these lots, yet my lot is to play against them. Come, O my tender one and my harsh one, O face of the one woman’s faces, O fabulous tale of my hallucination, O queen of my imagination and its prey, O competitor with my feelings and numbers, come to the quivering fleeting seconds and let us steal what belongs to no one else but us. Fancying you is sweeter than life, your mirage is mightier than death.

*****

O God, ask me — what do you want to know?
I will tell you:
All the curses are washed away by the miracle of a   meeting!
The embers of your eyes, my sweetheart, embrace my devils.
You bring me down to the bottom below water
And you raise me to heights loftier than freedom.
I close my eyes, my life, my moon on you
And so, no dreams can betray me.
O fountain of my inner jungles
O ferocious ewe of my inner wolf,
Who will ever fear for his life
           when desire’s angel is awake, laughing?
No one is born in the world every day.
Only eyes that allure other eyes are daily born!
One look
Only a look
And your eyes carrying the peace of sin
Will erase the memory of fear,
And the ease of obtaining will be fenced
           by the storm of ease!

--Beirut: 1996-December 1998

This is a short excerpt of a longer poem that appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 6, no. 31, Spring 2000.
The Arabic version appeared in Al-Qasida (The Poem), Vo. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1999).

Translated from the Arabic by Issa J. Boullata

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