Poet of the Week: Safia Elhillo

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second quarantine with abdelhalim hafez

the lyrics do not              translate
arabic     is all verbs        for what
stays still         in other languages
تصبح    to morning       what the
translation      to awake      cannot
honor      cannot contain its rhyme
with تسبح      to swim   tomake
the night a body               of water

i am here now &  i cannot morning
i am twenty-four        & always
sick      small for my age & always
translating                i  cannot sleep
through the night

no language               has given me
the rhyme            between ocean&
wound           that i know to be true
sometimes            when the doctors
draw my blood                       i feel
the word   at the edge of my tongue

halim sings       أغرق             aghraq
i am drowning                      i am drowning
the single word       for all the water
in his throat          does not translate

halim sings              teach me to kill
the tear in its duct          halim sings
i have no experience              in love
nor have i a boat & i know he
cannot rest                   cannot swim
through the night

i am looking     for a  voice       with
a wound in it         a man who could
only have died              by a form of
drowning                 let the song take
its  time                let the ocean close
back up

Safia Elhillo’s Poets Tour Profile