Literal Translation by Reem Ghanayem

Zulaikha and Marilyn

Translated By Reem Ghanayem

From deep in the heart of the well, my voice reached out.

The wolf they had invented for me heard it and ran away.

The shirt they smeared with fake blood blinded my father’s eyes.

Was is a real well? Was it a real shirt?

Did the desert tell the truth? Did the wolf tell the truth?

What was waiting for me at the mouth of the well

Except the Prophets’ Road to Egypt?

In an old copy of the Koran, I, the poet, found a court, a king, and a prison.

The beauty who loved Joseph chopped her fingers for him.

No less than real blood this time; no less than a real shirt.

I, the poet, can find no blood for my poem; I pared my fingers to write it.

I found Zulaikha in a refugee camp carrying a hot iron.

It burned and blistered her fingers.

A photo of her dead brother was hanging on the wall.

I, the poet, know that her hands were bleeding over the dishes while she was washing them,

That her beauty was buried in the rags she wore.

Now I am thinking of Marilyn Monroe, who suicided for the world’s misery,

For the scarcity of love.

She shone over the millions who left the theaters and went back to their lives.

They said she was unstable and they all waited for her to mature and be worthy of them.

I, the poet, know that I am no Hafez, Saadi, al-Mutanabbi, or Jalal al-Din Rumi.

They aspired for something higher than themselves, for a universal experience.

They communicated with the universe through love; they listened to the stars through love.

Today, poets are prisoners in the machine rooms.

They are alone and their women are made of paper.

The world is regressing, and ourselves are regressing along; we seek only lesser things.

Their cost is death, suicide for nothing, in a worthless world.

Zulaikha at the court waited for something more than a crown, more than a king.

The divine beauty that came from a well in the desert was genuine and universal.

Joseph who was not eaten by the wolf or the desert saw beyond the stars.

Zulaikha with her severed fingers, which blossomed and lit up, reached the sky.

You, old poet, what are you going to do, you, whom no one harvests?

For how long would Zulaikha be waiting?

Marilyn is approaching the grave.

Soon, but somewhere else, you would fall in the pit,

For no purpose, and no one would help you out of the well.

It is your date with no one.


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