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In the Doorway of My Friend’s House

I stopped in the doorway of my friend’s house
And my palm was glued to the doorbell
But my finger trembled, too weak to arouse
A desire to ring in its wires
I wavered. The road to his house had been long
And between the two of us and his morning cups
Of coffee, more than ten years.

His little brother: he finished copying out his lessons.
Their neighbor: perhaps she hadn’t prolonged her visit
After his sister May had finished
Putting on her dress, and she had turned back
To raise the curtains

And if the door opened, said affection
I bowed my head . . . 
What if their door had opened and I found them changed?
Come, I’ll show you two silences in the doorway: a silence ringing
And a silence hanging 

© Abdelkader al-Hosni. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.