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poetry > spring 2016

إلـى أمّــي

محمود درويش - فلسطين

أحنُّ إلى خبزِ أمّي

وقهوةِ أمّي 
ولمسةِ أمّي 
وتكبرُ فيَّ الطفولةُ 
يوماً على صدرِ يومِ 
وأعشقُ عمري لأنّي 
إذا متُّ 
أخجلُ من دمعِ أمّي 

خذيني، إذا عدتُ يوماً 
وشاحاً لهُدبكْ 
وغطّي عظامي بعشبِ 
تعمّد من طُهرِ كعبكْ 
..وشدّي وثاقي
..بخصلةِ شَعر 
بخيطٍ يلوّحُ في ذيلِ ثوبكْ 
عساني أصيرُ إلهاً 
..إلهاً أصير 
إذا ما لمستُ قرارةَ قلبكْ! 

ضعيني، إذا ما رجعتُ 
وقوداً بتنّورِ ناركْ 
وحبلِ الغسيلِ على سطحِ دارِكْ 
لأني فقدتُ الوقوفَ 
بدونِ صلاةِ نهارِكْ 
هرِمتُ، فرُدّي نجومَ الطفولة 
حتّى أُشارِكْ 
صغارَ العصافيرِ 
..دربَ الرجوع

لعشِّ انتظاركْ..

Mama

translated from Arabic by Michael Karam

I yearn for her bread, 
And her coffee, 
And her touch,
And my childhood takes over me
Day upon breast of day - 
I adore my life because
When I die
Her tears will shame me.

If I return, accept me
A veil for your gaze.
Clothe my bones with grass
Blessed by the serenity of your step.
Fasten my bonds…
With a lock of hair…
With a thread from the waving trail of your dress.
Maybe I’d become a god
O, a god I would become…
If I were to find my place in your heart – and stay!

If I return, place me
As fire in your oven, as fuel.
String me, on the roof of your home,
As clothesline.
If I can stand on my feet, 
Your daily prayer I thank.
I aged – give back those childhood dreams,
So I may join
The youngest of birds
On their flight back
To the nest – you smile

Translator's Note

Born in Western Galilee, Mahmoud Darwish is known as the national poet of Palestine, and his poetry is beloved throughout the world. He died in 2008. I chose to translate this piece as the Arabic's softness in the poem is akin to a Mother's Day recital. I tried my best to maintain that softness. It's a passionate love story from a son to his mother that plays on repeated structures in phrasing, another element I did my best to maintain. Overall, I maintained the musicality but also translated some phrases to a more interpreted translation that serves the same purpose. 

MICHAEL KARAM is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in both International Relations and Economics, with a minor in Mathematics. Although he was born in the US, he only lived there for a couple of years before moving to Egypt and then to Lebanon a year later. Growing up in Lebanon has fostered within him a love and passion for languages. He is proficient in French and Arabic and has a working knowledge of Spanish. In his opinion, knowing any language comes in handy in a translation because you have some understanding of how languages vary, are alike, and translate ideas. At Penn, Michael is involved with the International Affairs Association, the Undergraduate Assembly, the Assembly of International Students and the United Minorities Council.