She has gone. No one looks pale and no lips are trembling.
The news of her death is not repeated from door to door.
There are no sorrowing windows, so no curtains are parted
for eyes to follow her coffin until it is out of sight.
Only her remains, shaken by memory, are carried along the road.
Finding no echo of response, word of her death
seeks refuge in oblivion, in an abyss
whose sadness is mourned by the moon.
Carelessly night is yielding to day.
With first light comes the cry of the milk woman, pangs from fasting,
mewing of starving, slap-sided cats,
squabbling street-hawkers, bitterness and struggle;
kids hurling pebbles at one another across the road,
filthy water seeping into gutters along narrow lanes; while the wind
plays a lonely game with a roof-top door
in a half-real world.
Nazik al-Malaika (1923 – 2007) was an Iraqi female poet.
Translated from the Arabic by Anne Fairbaim