Tuesday Poem

My Husband Before the Occupation

He stumbled between his fear and his fire
I was slave but his mistress, lady

His name, a tattoo of my pain
His past, a crematorium for my poetry

Once upon a time, my husband—

My husband after the occupation

I said to my husband—
Be like a brother to me
Let’s not wet our marriage bed with even one drop of happiness

The Mujahideen, now in our house,
would smell love’s musk, our sweat

They’d behead anyone
who had both love and breath

by Amal Al-Jubouri
from Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation
Alice James Books, 2011
translated from the Arabic by Rebecca Gayle Howell and Husam Qaisi