I’m alone as usual
but the city is unusually alone.
I watch over its wilderness out of my window.
Nothing but the night and the curfew.
The one tree of the long street
asks about two lovers that have never missed a date.
The broken lantern asks about a kiss
it has concealed in the dark time and again.
The bar is closed and the wine is drinking by itself
and a pot hole in the road is celebrating
footsteps that did not come.
Only the curfew is wandering alone
and all this night is a kingdom for the wind.
What will become of supplication
and deferred footsteps
and appointments that wait
for the curfew’s permission?
What’s all this change in the city?
Where are the weddings and the city lights?
Where are the door bells and the cats’ meows?
Where are the horns and brakes of crazy cars?
Where are the voices of children
who split the darkness with shouting and laughter?
Where’s the tapping of a dancer’s high heels on her way home
or of a woman heading to work?
Where’s me when I hate my loneliness?
The city that was plentiful around me
is now lonely like me
lying on the side of the night.
The curfew is cautious
just like my confused window
like me the solitary
like the city
this cautious stillness…moving stealthily toward the morning of life.
by Radhia Chehaibi
from Split This Rock
translated from the Arabic by Ali Znaidi