Common Night

Merdan Ehet'éli

This is a night made from words.
This is a night poured into our spines like pig iron.
This is a night that puts us up in slippers and in our bedrooms inside books.
This is a night that makes our noses shed hellfruit leaves.
This is a night for us to make merry with lovers in illusory castles.
This is the spring night that grows soft grasses from the footprints we
               trample each day into prayer rugs, and constantly weighs down our
This is the celestial night that turns advantage into likelihood.
This is the mother night that suckles death verses.
This is a night that no elegy, ode, rain, or beam of light shall ever reach.
This is a hungry night,
this an unclothed night.
This is a night far from Satan and from God.
This is a night that reminds us
of the darkness of the womb
of the vague sobs of infancy
of the solo games of adolescence
of the first love of youth
of the sudden futility of adulthood
of the grim dusk of old age
of the terror of the moment before death.
This is the night that patiently waits
to seep from our pores
and violently seize our whole body
as we cast off from shore.
This night is a sky for all buildings, shadows, traditions, betrayals,
               revolutions, mattresses, bats, novels, songs, pictures, journeys,
               murders, and smokable substances.
This night is ink to all pens.
This night is bosom to all secrets.
This night is the Antichrist dragging the land of history along with his
This night is the mud that sticks to our shoes as we walk in the forest of
This is the night that splinters Noah's ship and makes traps of its decks.
This is the night that takes all that we have, hands it over to the only one
               that speaks, and quietly walks on.

translated from the Uyghur by Joshua L. Freeman