From “غريب على الخليج” by Badr Shakir al-Sayyab
Translated from the Arabic by Zahra Hankir and Mariam Antar

Be quenched,
oh droplets, oh blood,
oh Money!

the needles
sewing my sails
the winds
steering my boat
the glistening of
the waves
And we,
but an oar
slicing through                          these       rough       seas
in the dead
of night
our guiding star,
I implore you:

When shall I return?
To Iraq,
when shall I return?
Back to my homeland,
when shall I return?

How I wish
boats did not charge
their weary passengers.
How I wish
this earth were
an endless landscape,
with no vista of the oceans.

For I remain a slave
with an insatiable craving
for you,
Oh droplets, oh blood,
oh Money!
The more I have of you,
the less biting
my hunger becomes.

The very thought of you,
a bright light
illuminating the other        side
of the shore                                        over there,
back home.

So, tell me, Money!
When will I return?
When will I return?
Is that glorious day on the horizon of my lifetime?

Zahra Hankir

Zahra Hankir is a New York-based journalist who mostly writes about Middle East cultures. She is the editor of Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World, a best-selling book of essays published by Penguin in 2019. She is currently working on Eyeliner: A Cultural History, forthcoming from Penguin in 2023.

Mariam Antar

Mariam Antar is a Lebanon-based teacher, teacher trainer and translator. She teaches English as a second language to college students in South Lebanon, and has been an educator for over 25 years. She is also an English language instructor and trainer with the British Council.

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