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Poetry

Tales of a Severed Head, I

By Rachida Madani
Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker

What city and what night
since it's night in the city
when a woman and a train-station argue over
the same half of a man who is leaving.
He is young, handsome
he is leaving for a piece of white bread.
She is young, beautiful as a springtime
cluster
trying to flower for the last time
for her man who is leaving.
But the train arrives
but the branch breaks
but suddenly it's raining in the station
in the midst of spring.
And the train emerges from all directions
It whistles and goes right through the woman
the whole length of her.
Where the woman bleeds, there will never be spring
Again.
in the night, in her head, under the pillow
trains pass filled with men
filled with mud
and they all go through her
the whole length of them.
How many winters will pass, how many snowfalls
before the first bleeding letter
before the first mouthful of white bread?

Read the next poem in this sequence here.

English

What city and what night
since it's night in the city
when a woman and a train-station argue over
the same half of a man who is leaving.
He is young, handsome
he is leaving for a piece of white bread.
She is young, beautiful as a springtime
cluster
trying to flower for the last time
for her man who is leaving.
But the train arrives
but the branch breaks
but suddenly it's raining in the station
in the midst of spring.
And the train emerges from all directions
It whistles and goes right through the woman
the whole length of her.
Where the woman bleeds, there will never be spring
Again.
in the night, in her head, under the pillow
trains pass filled with men
filled with mud
and they all go through her
the whole length of them.
How many winters will pass, how many snowfalls
before the first bleeding letter
before the first mouthful of white bread?

Read the next poem in this sequence here.

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