One day I will pass by
the house that used to be my home
and try not to measure the distance from it to my friends’ homes.
The plump widow whose cries for love woke me up many times
is no longer my neighbor.
I will invent things so I do not get confused.
Count my steps, perhaps,
or bite my lower lip, delighting in the slight pain,
or keep my fingers busy with tearing a whole packet
of paper tissues.
I will not try to find short cuts
to evade the pain.
I will not stop myself from loitering
as I train my teeth to chew on a contempt
that leaps from within.
And to tolerate
the cold hands that pushed me toward it,
I will remember
that I did not smudge the bathroom’s whiteness
with a darkness that is mine alone.
No doubt, things elude me.
The wall did not intervene in my dreams.
Therefore, I did not imagine a paint
to match the scene’s tragic lighting.
This house was my home for years.
It was not a student hostel
where I would hang an evening gown
on a nail behind the door,
or stick my old pictures with temporary glue.
I think the romantic sentences
I extracted from Love in the Time of Cholera
are jumbled together now
making an altogether comic text.
© Iman Mersal. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2006 by Khaled Mattawa. All rights reserved.