Iraqi Poet: Siham Jabbar
Translated by Soheil Najm
Poetic Editing in English by Susan Bright
My hands are but your hands
and your mouth is one of my lips.
You are part of my darkness,
a darkness to complete
a lonely woman's throne.
you are not my finger,
you are not my hands,
you are not confused eyes in the dark,
you are not the darkness.
There is no throne for a woman alone.
Like Hypatia in ancient times
they skinned my body
while I was counting the mathematical
relationship between time,
planetary bodies and life.
I patched up my skin and tried
to squeeze what I had seen from my eyes
yet they were changed
and I was not.
I bathed in ancient philosophies,
alongside beheaded sculptures,
besieged the killers
at the barrier.
They could be the barbarians,
they could be the Bedouin in their wandering.
The gods decreed
the labyrinth spiral among fingers
of lost hands
and every love is wilderness.
What could the monsters have seen
in my blood?
A hand will pass through my heart
and squeeze the passion from it.
They take me in a coffin.
The coffin is a weapon
and death is each new explosion
that smears the labyrinth with blood again.
You are sentenced to decades
more of this.
Thirty have passed
but forty have not,
and the century has not ended.
Survival is for the fittest
but I’m not the fittest.
They filter through my blood.
Arteries are for a wise man’s death,
brain the food of demons.
Still they get drunk
and are heedless,
inject our blood with silence,
inject our love with patience.
Why treat women and children
like eggs to hatch?
We must fast,
As decades pass
we become less human.
Yet the mathematical relationships
won’t work unless pupils preserve
their wisdom in vials.
How much did the thorn flourish
when it held back the flower
in the vial, it’s full bloom!
Blood drops spurt out
instead of a perfumed rose.
How long can Spring end and a country begin
dancing in the cradle, never sleeping,
cutting the umbilical cord but never born?
Move on O country
go past the soil, your sky,
and my dress,
leave it and rise up
as if you were a runaway people
as if I gave birth to you, released you,
as if you were an undutiful son
cut from of my will.
I am just a lonely woman
and you are only…that traitor.
**Hypatia was a Platonic philosopher and mathematician who was born and died in Alexandria in Egypt (350 A.D.). One of the victims of science in history. She was beheaded and skinned because of her liberal thinking. (The Translator)
Photo above of the Hypatia place setting in Judy Chicago's Dinner Party Exhibit honoring women throughout history.
Siham Jabbar: Born in Baghdad1963.
Published book: * The poetess, Baghdad 1995.