Was It Love?

Badr Shaker al-Sayyab
Do you call what I feel infatuation?
Obsessive wishes? Ardor?
What is love?
Melancholy and smiles?
Or is it the fluttering ribs when our eyes meet,
When I would look down, fleeing with my yearning
From a sky which does not quench my burning thirst when I come seeking succor?
If only the beautiful eyes were to become a shadow in my drink,
In my pals’ hands the glasses have gone dry,
They don’t even sweat.
O goblet, prepare on your drunk rim a place for our lips to meet one day,
Excited and inflamed
In a parting in whose horizons looms the shadow of an approach
How often has my broken heart wished that you had not responded to love
 From far or near
Or that you had never known, before our meeting, any lover, 
What mouth has touched those lips
Bemoaning its suffering over and over?
But I do not know the meaning my question about her love,
Is it, o love, some of her love?
I envy the ecstatic light,
Which, because of what it meets, is about to blend 
With a ribbon that has smothered the hair with kisses,
At times it has the color of the virgin sky,
And, at times, one only sees crimson ,
I wish my heart were but a glimmer of that captive light.
Is all of this love? Tell me.
Translated from the Arabic by Fawaz Azem.
This poem appeared in Al Jadid Magazine, Vol. 27, No. 84, 2023.
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