Tarteel to translator

TARTEEL1)Transliteration of Arabic “ترتيل ,” a chanted hymn or ode TO TRANSLATOR


for Alex Foreman

Remember November, when Beirut was in
flames and each by each I read the names
to match the bodies stacking high there,
like sticks I used to pitch wide my
skin here, to feel my city’s sting
cross sea-wind, remember
how you knew sharp
sticks are good

for reaching?

Remember then how you would not stay
my reaching hands from these names
that cracked my city like my skin,
or from my love for a Beirut I
can’t stay from or stay in,
as you knew to hold me
back would stay
no fallout?

Remember how you were no new wall
against how I bled for Beirut, no red
herring from bits of the news,
how you fell in with me, you
were my windfall? Though
the sting of my city then
hit you too?

Remember that pain when that ISIL scourge of
a bulletin claimed the fresh dead of the Bourj
how it was stiff with slurs to names like my
mother’s, words I could neither forget nor
repeat, so unlike a bullet but like tinder
to each branch of my new dried veins,
how you then were the right wall
from ISIL for me, but also a
bridge, from Beirut
to the world?

Remember you translated their bulletin when                                                                                                 the dead of the Bourj cracked wide this                                                                                                             skin again, and Arabic turned too ugly
for me to see, and though it scorched
you as well and made you roar to
do, you did it just so I
wouldn’t have to?
Just for the world to
hear and see
my city?

Hiba Krisht

Hiba Krisht is a writer and translator. Her stories and essays appear in The Kenyon Review, Blackbird, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Mizna, among other journals. She is a recipient of 2016 Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize, the 2013 Joann Athanas Memorial Award in literature from the National Society of Arts and Letters, and the 2012 Jane Foulkes Malone Fellowship in fiction from Indiana University. She is a Beirut transplant and served as founding Fiction Editor of Rusted Radishes.

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1. Transliteration of Arabic “ترتيل ,” a chanted hymn or ode
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