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Poetry

Anatomy of the Rose

By Soukaina Habiballah
Translated from Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid

When the rose perceived the distance
between itself and the earth,
it brought forth its thorns.

When the rose realized
that a single leg
couldn’t take it anywhere,
that it was voiceless
and mostly had no echo,
it thought of fragrance.

The blooming petals: a navel.
The stem: a rope that binds it
to the earth’s deep womb.
That rose will be born someday
in a lover’s hand
or between the shores of a book.

© Soukaina Habiballah. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2016 by Kareem Abu-Zeid. All rights reserved.

English Arabic

When the rose perceived the distance
between itself and the earth,
it brought forth its thorns.

When the rose realized
that a single leg
couldn’t take it anywhere,
that it was voiceless
and mostly had no echo,
it thought of fragrance.

The blooming petals: a navel.
The stem: a rope that binds it
to the earth’s deep womb.
That rose will be born someday
in a lover’s hand
or between the shores of a book.

© Soukaina Habiballah. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2016 by Kareem Abu-Zeid. All rights reserved.

تشريح الوردة

حين انتبهتِ الوردةُ
إلى المسافةِ بينها   
وبين الأرض،      
أخرجَت شوكها.  

حين أدركتِ الوردة
أنَّ ساقاً واحدة لا تحمل إلى أي مكانٍ
أنَّها بلا صوتٍ وغالباً بلا صدى،
فكَّرت في العطر.

البتلات المتفَتِّحة سُرّة
والسَّاقُ حبلٌ يربطها برحم الأرض الغائر
يوماً ما ستولد هذه الوردة
على كفِّ عاشقة أو بينَ دفَّتي كتاب.

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