I Look Around Me

NOTE: Iman Mersal was born in 1966 in a small village in the Delta. A graduate of Mansura University, she was co-editor from 1985 to 1988 of the independent feminist magazine, Bint al-Ard (Daughter of the Earth). Following her first book of poetry, a collection of measured verse, she switched to the avant-garde genre called qasidat al-nathr (prose poem), aligning herself with the "new generation" of poets who found the genre more suitable for describing the details of daily life. Her second book, Mamarr Muètim Yasluh li Taèallum al-Raqs (A Dark Passageway is Suitable for Learning to Dance), was selected as the best book of poetry in 1995 by polls conducted by a number of Egyptian magazines and newspapers.

With the alertness of a creature
expecting its demise
I usually look around me.
Perhaps that is why
my neck has a strength
that does not match my body,
and what is surprising
is that I do not foresee live bullets
from empty side streets
or scissors-
as a silent way of killing-
but flashing glances
from eyes I barely glimpse
but that can do
what must be done.

For the next poem in this sequence, click here.