Skip to main content
Outdated Browser

For the best experience using our website, we recommend upgrading your browser to a newer version or switching to a supported browser.

More Information

Poetry

Anna

By Samira Negrouche
Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker
Read Samira Negrouche's "Anna," the fourth and final poem in the Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets National Translation Month series, translated by Marilyn Hacker.
sun setting behind a field of grass
Photo by Jake Givens on Unsplash
Listen to this poem
 
 
·

Anna the chair was overturned it’s after the end—whatever end—that we must readjust forgetting—paradise Anna sometimes has a taste of moldy sun—when I think of the sun I want to think of Senac, of Amrouche, of Amrani—but when I think sun I want to think of the California sun, the one I’ve never seen—that mother-earth that nourishes you—and desire makes its place in what perhaps will happen, it doesn’t matter much if it happens—at the end paradise puts the chair back—I’m not saying the chair stands upright again—I’m not saying that it gets up—but isn’t there something that has to be put right and I think that it’s the idea of paradise itself that’s bothering me—in the Koran some remember especially the virgins offered to martyrs—there should be an end to such sacrifice, Anna—of course restore the virgins and the mothers—for the Marabout of Dakar, there was no point in going to Mecca because, he said, Mecca is your mother’s hip—honor your mother’s hip he said—he didn’t say strangle yourself with your umbilical cord—but your mother like Mecca is a promised land—you must go there only once—my mother’s land is a joyful cord—it’s a song in the bath—thawardets—the rose—my mother remembers the bath—all children are beautiful—and paradise, Anna, is a mother in whom you travel only once—a refrain that remains like a faraway pulse—we aren’t perfect, Anna—we aren’t imperfect either—

© 2022 Samira Negrouche. Translation © 2022 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.

English French

Anna the chair was overturned it’s after the end—whatever end—that we must readjust forgetting—paradise Anna sometimes has a taste of moldy sun—when I think of the sun I want to think of Senac, of Amrouche, of Amrani—but when I think sun I want to think of the California sun, the one I’ve never seen—that mother-earth that nourishes you—and desire makes its place in what perhaps will happen, it doesn’t matter much if it happens—at the end paradise puts the chair back—I’m not saying the chair stands upright again—I’m not saying that it gets up—but isn’t there something that has to be put right and I think that it’s the idea of paradise itself that’s bothering me—in the Koran some remember especially the virgins offered to martyrs—there should be an end to such sacrifice, Anna—of course restore the virgins and the mothers—for the Marabout of Dakar, there was no point in going to Mecca because, he said, Mecca is your mother’s hip—honor your mother’s hip he said—he didn’t say strangle yourself with your umbilical cord—but your mother like Mecca is a promised land—you must go there only once—my mother’s land is a joyful cord—it’s a song in the bath—thawardets—the rose—my mother remembers the bath—all children are beautiful—and paradise, Anna, is a mother in whom you travel only once—a refrain that remains like a faraway pulse—we aren’t perfect, Anna—we aren’t imperfect either—

© 2022 Samira Negrouche. Translation © 2022 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.

Anna

 
 

Click above to listen to this poem in the original French
Anna la chaise est renversée c’est à partir de la fin—n’importe quelle fin—qu’il faudrait réajuster l’oubli—le paradis Anna a parfois un goût de soleil moisi—quand je pense au soleil je veux penser à Sénac à Amrouche à Amrani—mais quand je pense soleil je veux penser au soleil de la Californie—celui que je n’ai jamais vu—cette terre mère qui t’irrigue—le désir prend place dans ce qui adviendra peut-être—peu importe si ça advient—à la fin le paradis rétablit la chaise—je ne dis pas que la chaise redevient droite—je ne dis pas qu’elle se dresse—mais quelque chose n’est-ce pas doit être rétabli et je crois que c’est l’idée même du paradis qui m’inquiète—dans le Coran il ruisselle sous les pieds des mamans—dans le Coran certains retiennent les vierges offertes aux sacrifiés—il faut renverser le sacrifice Anna—sans doute rétablir les vierges et les mères—pour le Marabout de Dakar il ne sert à rien d’aller à la Mecque car dit-il la Mecque c’est le flanc de ta mère—honore le flanc de ta mère dit-il—il ne dit pas étrangle-toi avec ton cordon ombilical—mais ta mère comme une Mecque est une terre promise—il ne faut y voyager qu’une fois—la terre de ma mère est un cordon joyeux—c’est une chanson dans le bain—thawardets—la rose—ma mère se rappelle le bain—tous les enfants sont beaux—et le paradis Anna est une mère dans laquelle on ne voyage qu’une fois—un refrain qui reste comme un battement lointain—nous ne sommes pas parfaits Anna—nous ne sommes pas imparfaits non plus—
 

Read Next

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]