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Poetry

kretek-ing

By Zahid M. Naser
Translated from Malay by Pauline Fan
Read Zahid M. Naser's "kretek-ing," the second poem in the Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets National Translation Month series, translated by Pauline Fan.
yellow smoke curling against a black background
Photo by Олег Жилко on Unsplash
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i like to watch your breast heave, the pulse of your green veins
smoldering at the crack of my lips,
your brimming breath speaks passion
bloodrush like the swell of desire in a room
surging higher and higher to my eyes, craving life;
our mouths thirst for milk and wellsprings
our clothes laugh, unashamed, into death throes
oblivious to the day’s disquiet;
you close your eyes, compose your shoulders, offer your neck
and tiny hairs unfurl into games and crosswords,
my nose is doglike, my fingers swarm around you
your smiling breath hoists my clavicle
like a wheel that rises and falls with your sighs
— at last you inhale a whole spirit
with several lives — while your eyes wink in pleasure;
i finger the kretek lit by her body,
as smoke seeps to your sublime realm of solemn jest and becomes a city;
i have touched it, i seize it all on a day like this
on a day you urge me to conquer, a day like this.

English Malay

i like to watch your breast heave, the pulse of your green veins
smoldering at the crack of my lips,
your brimming breath speaks passion
bloodrush like the swell of desire in a room
surging higher and higher to my eyes, craving life;
our mouths thirst for milk and wellsprings
our clothes laugh, unashamed, into death throes
oblivious to the day’s disquiet;
you close your eyes, compose your shoulders, offer your neck
and tiny hairs unfurl into games and crosswords,
my nose is doglike, my fingers swarm around you
your smiling breath hoists my clavicle
like a wheel that rises and falls with your sighs
— at last you inhale a whole spirit
with several lives — while your eyes wink in pleasure;
i finger the kretek lit by her body,
as smoke seeps to your sublime realm of solemn jest and becomes a city;
i have touched it, i seize it all on a day like this
on a day you urge me to conquer, a day like this.

ngeretek

 

 
 

Listen to this poem in the original Malay

senang menyaksikan degup dada, degup urat hijaumu
oleh kerana aku hangat di rekahan bibir
ruah nafasmu bercakap berahi
alir deras darah sebagai ghairah di kamar
makin lama, makin naik ke mataku, menagih hidup
mulut kita haus mencari susu dan mata air
dan pakaian tak malu ketawa lantas sakarat
tanpa menghiraukan keresahan hari
mata kau tutup, bahu kau bawa, leher kau serah
dan rambut kecil menjadi permainan dan teka kata
hidungku sebagai anjing, dan jemariku menghurungmu
senyum nafasmu takal bahuku,
sebagai roda yang seturun dan senaik desahmu
— kau hela akhirnya sekujur ruhwi
dengan sejumlah hayat — sambil kelip matamu mengenyit suka
di antara jariku sudah siap kretek dicucuh tubuh
sedang asapnya nyusup ke dalam luhur canda seriusmu menjadi kota
telah ku jamah, ku takluk seluruhnya di hari yang seperti ini
di hari yang kau pinta aku jajahi, hari yang seperti ini.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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