by Fadwa Souleimane, translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Hacker


we hear the voices of machine-guns

not death’s footsteps

Who guides the bullet to choose who dies?

The one who fires the gun ?

The bullet ?

Death itself ?

The one who dies?

Or you, hiding we don’t know where?

Or you, who we call by name?

Who will rest among us?

The sniper?

The bullet?

Or the one who stays behind to count the dead,

Or the one who waits because the sniper missed his target,

Or the one far away struck with sadness, not knowing why,

Or the one who died?

Dear universe, good people were killed by other good people’s hands

Is there a candle in this darkness?

Is there a guide for those who leave tonight so they’ll arrive at the threshold of


And not at the threshold of other darknesses?

Where are we?

And who are we ?

And where is this path leading ?

Is time moving through us

While it starts and ends with us?

Will it leave with us to reach a different time?

Dear universe, I would like to swim in you like an invisible seed

Inaudible too

But felt

I would like to leave this place

I would like to climb toward you, toward you

في هذا اللَّيل من سَيمُوت؟

 تُسمَعُ أصواتُ الرشَّاشَاتِ في هذا الَّليلِ،

و لا صوتَ لأقدامِ الموت

مَن يُوجِّهُ الرصَّاصةَ لتختاَر مَن وجبَ عليهِ الموتُ؟

أمِ الرَّصَاصَة؟  أمِ المَوت؟ أم مَن يَموت؟ الرامِي؟

أم أنت القَابِعُ لانعرفُ أين ونُنادِي باسمِك؟


من منَّا سَيرتاح ؟ الرَّامي؟ أَمْ الرَّصاصة؟

أم مَن سيبقى ليُحصيَ عددَ الأموات؟

أم ذاكَ الذي ينتظرُ كي يُخطِئَه الرصاصُ؟

أمِ البعيدُ الذي يُلِمُ به حزنٌ، ولا يَعلمُ شَيئاً؟ أم من مَات؟

أيُّها الكونُ ، يُقتَلُ الطَّيبون بأيدي الطِّيبين


هل في هذا العَتمِ من شَمعة؟

هل في هذا الَّليلِ من مُرشدٍ للسَّائرين كي يَبلُغوا عتبةَ النُّور

لا عَتبةَ ظُلمةٍ أُخرى؟

أينَ نحنُ؟ ومن نكونُ ؟ وإلى أينَ السبيل؟

هل يدورُ الوقتُ دورتَه عَلينَا

فيَبتَدي بِنا وينتَهي بِنا؟


هل يرتَحِل بِنا إلى وقتٍ لآخر؟

أَيُّها الكونُ ، أريدُ أن أسبحَ بكَ كَذرةٍ لا تُرى

ولا تُسمَع،  تُحسُّ

أريُد الخروجَ خارجَ هذا


أريدُ الصعودَ إليكَ إليك

Marilyn Hacker

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 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.

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