Muhammad al-Kumayt al-Garbi: I Tell Myself

I Tell Myself

I tell myself: You are a man of words,
Wherefore your solace is in wine,
Like wine your solace fills the cup
With lightning flashes.

So I settle down to drink: my joy.
My soul—the thought of being one with her,
Or no, becoming so, anticipating it.
Gazelle: her red lips lifted up I choose,
As I would choose to sip,
Waking, a jar of cool auroral wine.

What do love’s censors know who blow like the wind
Their chill, and sever me from everything? Beyond
Sadness, or the sense of being abandoned,
Those neuters never see how solace can assuage.
Their dispassion puts me in a rage.

Beautiful women humbly I have adored,
As well as bashful ones, big-eyed. My flair:
Not to make the news; my strength: to be ignored.
How else to hang in there, on the safe side?
The mumbojumbo of the doorguard sword beware!

Thrice the price paid at the battle of Siffin
Obstructs my being one with her I crave;
But why invite some braver go-between?
Torn by passion too he’d soon ignite,
In grievous war amor would roast him quite.

The saki moaned: “Still far to go till dawn.”
Then it happens: twixt the lamp and me
(Eclipsing it, while I was hoping wine
Might brighten me) she walks, I watch, I see
The sun glow from her face, and lo, I’m gone.

By my progenitor I swear she hoards,
That greedy girl, her presence; yet her face
Gives out unsparing glory like the sun.
And airing roundabout her artful words,
She floats this fiction till our next embrace:

“Let us be one,
Come to me, friend.
With no deception,
True to the end.”

Translated by Christopher Middleton & Leticia Garza-Falcón

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