The little boy, playing in bed
while his wounded mother cooks,
is throwing little words and circles
out of the window.
(the whole world lights up)
he chatters excitedly — What can he see?
There's a monkey at the window —
behind the door!
But he is falling
And though he never raises a cry
he holds up his claws — this dark
She never taught him how to cry only how to sing.
Happy in herself - just as she wished to be —
she taught him endless space and vastness
and she calls him: Open-hearted.
Behind him a mountain of metaphors
in front a river a mouthful of night
and a train of caravans calling him away.
(Where is that thread
Running - down an alleyway
he splashes cooking oil all over his shorts this boy!
He wets himself
running through Eternity -
through this alleyway
this pack of dogs
the conspiracies of fate!
The solid front door remembers the hand that made it -
You are the key —
and the creak of the universe — it's your sole secret
You lean your dreams and future against it.
For its sake you endure the woodworms
gnawing through your heart
the reek of damp
the hammering of enemies and relatives.
(Long is the absence of light
that paints things awake —
Long is the presence of paint!)
You come home exhausted — from wherever you've been
the wind at your side — just as you wished
toyed with by traumas.
Once he made necklaces from seashells
colouring them with his own fairytales
once he made friends with strange frogs
— and all the while she's watching him
from behind the door/from out the window
(when she runs to pick him up
he will not raise
In the forest the lonely one knows all the voices
beckoned by the eyes of loved ones
their songs are luring her
with their tender fingers
and her own translucent solitude.
She sits in silence
close to every thing
stirring the porridge.
In the garden
of a strange home her home
she welcomes the pots and pans
to the sounds of morning.
Scrubbing everything in its proper place
one eye on the radio
that calls her to those distant sands
But her colour flow like a river
so she can sing….
And that boy?
In a green forest
or a red forest
or a desert
now who calls him to Eternity?
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (born 1969) Sudan
Translated by Hafiz Kheir and Sarah Maguire
Source: Poetry Translation Centre