Sunday, 10 July 2016

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller - Moncef Ouahibi

In the morning, when water was falling in threads, I was putting my first sentence in order
I would write it and cross it out to write it
I glimpsed, right here from the window in old Porto, the phantom of a woman reading on her rocking chair on the balcony of the house across from me. She was indifferent to the flat Acanthus leaves. It was getting dark around her
I thought a bit and then left my things and took my binoculars
All I saw was a wren bird, a mysterious light veiling her hands, amber ornament, tight pants, legs parting and closing as she read
my first sentence (I knew Qayrawan when hungry caravans were drawn by carriages and walls
Dawn was zigzagging up the slopes of its mountains
Illuminating half-open doors and children waiting on steps, or running in tunnels like rats
Rain had the smell of musk that day as it fell on its brown bricks and on toasted bread in its streets
Water was falling down in threads)
I was saying that a glass of porto and the drone of two flies on the window of the bar hanging in the river’s sky at Porto are all I need to write the joy of two wet bodies hiding in the orchard’s grass. I remember two thighs opening for me like seashells. Her mouth wet as a date at times, warm as pastry at others. Rain tasted like grass and water was dropping down in threads. I was on a chair in the balcony
Surrounded by flat Acanthus leaves as they flash
I was reading what I was going to write when I glimpsed the phantom of a lady standing at the window in the house across from me
Binoculars watching me
The water in crystal was dropping down in threads.

Moncef Ouahibi (born 1949) Tunisia
Translated by Sinan Antoon

  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller is the title of a novel by Italo Calvino
  • al-Qayrawan, is the capital of the Kairouan Governorate in Tunisia

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