Two poems from The Abduction by Maram Al-Masri, translated by Hélène Cardona

O human brothers

O human brothers

O world

I had a child

I hid him in my belly

he shared my body

I fed him my blood

we shared my dreams

I sang for him, he smiled

I carried him, he stopped crying

they ripped him from my arms

I stopped singing

Do you remember

Do you remember

that little boy

who lived with his parents near us?

do you remember

when his mother entrusted him to us 

when shopping?

and I’d put you together

to play and babble

do you remember

how quiet and wise he was?

he didn’t even protest

or get annoyed when you took his toy

or leaned on him to stand

His name was Salim

his mother, Josephine, a resigned woman

tasted bitterness, like me

when I heard his father

kidnapped him

stole him away to his grandmother

I cried for him

I didn’t know then

I was shedding my first tears

for you

Ô frères humains

Ô frères humains

ô monde

j’avais un enfant

je l’ai caché dans mon ventre

il a partagé mon corps

je l’ai nourri de mon sang

je lui ai fait partager mes rêves

j’ai chanté pour lui, il souriait

je l’ai porté, il cessait de pleurer

ils l’ont arraché à mes bras

j’ai cessé de chanter

Maram Al-Masri, Le Rapt (Éditions Bruno Doucey, 2015)

Tu te rappelles

Tu te rappelles

ce petit garçon

qui vivait avec ses parents près de chez nous ?

tu te rappelles

quand sa maman nous le confiait

pour faire ses courses ?

alors, je vous mettais ensemble

à jouer et babiller

tu te rappelles

comme il était calme et sage ?

il ne protestait même pas

ni ne s’énervait quand tu prenais ses jouets

ou quand tu t’appuyais sur lui pour te mettre debout

il s’appelait Salim

sa maman, Joséphine, une femme résignée

elle a goûté comme moi l’amertume

quand j’ai su que son père

l’avait kidnappé

le jetant au loin chez la grand-mère

j’ai pleuré pour lui

je ne savais pas à ce moment-là

que je versais mes premières larmes

sur toi

Maram Al-Masri, Le Rapt (Éditions Bruno Doucey, 2015)

Maram Al-Masri, born in Lattakia, Syria, moved to France after completing English Literature studies at Damascus University. She received the Prix d’Automne de Poésie (Société des Gens De Lettres), Adonis Prize, and the Dante Alighieri Prize. Her books include Cerise rouge sur un carrelage blanc, Elle va nue la liberté, and Le Rapt.

Hélène Cardona’s books include Life in Suspension, Dreaming My Animal Selves and the translations Birnam Wood by José Manuel Cardona (Salmon Poetry), Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, White Pine Press), Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, Éd. du Cygne), Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings (WhitmanWeb). Her work has been translated into 16 languages.

About the contributor

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