Above the gables and the lamps a hunter’s moon this winter,
clear as a lightbulb or a polished spoon this winter.
Awake at five, awake at six, awake at seven
the light is gone, and not returning soon this winter.
Spit in a cup, hold out your arm for the needle,
blow out hard as you can into a balloon this winter.
“To write a sonnet is a fascist act” –
Suggest that to the next tyre-burning goon this winter!
The slave girl stole the king’s mare and rode away –
write her أبيات, her canticle, her rune, this winter.
After you left, I didn’t know for the last time,
I listened to an exile play qanoun this winter.
Acedia, bronchitis, despair, nostalgia –
diseases to which I’m not immune this winter.
Oh, weren’t we once gallant and outrageous ?
Now we trade ailments on the phone, ya Mimijune, this winter.
Let’s say that the beloved’s name is Shams
For it is Shams I am بدون . this winter.
Marilyn Hacker is known for formal poems that mix high culture and colloquial speech. She is the author of thirteen books of poems, most recently A Stranger’s Mirror (Norton, 2015), an essay collection; Unauthorized Voices ( Michigan, 2010); DiaspoRenga, written collaboratively with Deema Shehabi (Holland Park Press, 2014); and sixteen translations of French and Francophone poets including books by Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Habib Tengour, and Rachida Madani. Her latest book is Blazons, published by Carcanet Press in the U.K. in spring 2019. Her translations from Arabic include work by Zakaria Tamer, Golan Haji, Fadwa Suleiman, and Yasser Khanjer. Her awards include the National Book Award, the 2009 American PEN Award for poetry in translation, and the international Argana Prize for Poetry from the Beit as-Sh’ir in Morocco in 2011. She lives in Paris.