from Seven Birds

Mohammed Bennis


underneath the veil rests a head
lap of the air—the earth
a bulge rises from the chest
two hands dispel the poisons of the night
two feet pressed one
against the other
distancing themselves from the noise that still corrupts the place

soon they will carry the corpse
to the place where the prayers for the dead
to the cemetery
in a corner of rushed graves

as it is lowered into nothingness
everything makes audible repeating strokes
even silence

a woman
facing her death
sways the lantern


the first step begins where you are now
full of doubt you constantly stare
a dizziness
in time you will seek out its source

words are your nourishment
this road you only see as darkness
within darkness
a friend was here then disappeared
not every goodbye can be goodbye

a hand
between the rocks points out the road
within the road

a blue hand

it is the one
that branched out of your roots
a sound that flows through
a rocky surface that speaks

the chant is not over

a desert approaches with the road towards you
a desert of words
a storm
gathers in the shape of a person you thought
resembled you
but the chant grows louder
out of a hand searching for you amongst the birds
a blue hand in
your hand

the language of the road

translated from the Arabic by Nashwa Gowanlock