3 Maya Abu Al-Hayyat Translations

By and | 1 August 2021

Since They Told Me My Love Won’t Be Coming Back from the War

I tried everything:
God, for example,
I leaned on his chest and prayed,
and on that rug, once and for all,
I learned that my love
won’t come back, and that if he does
won’t recognise me.

I tried my hand at politics,
memorised patriotic songs,
befriended legislators,
adored warriors,
but seasonal and moody
they changed their faces
as they do their speeches
once they got close to my pockets.
And then I knew that my love
won’t know me even if he returns.

Since they told me my love
won’t be coming back from the war,
I’ve been writing our children’s names
on clouds and in journals,
documenting their birthdays,
shoe sizes, the poems they recite,
and once and for all,
I learned that all of them
won’t be coming back from the war,
and neither will I.

From You Can Be the Last Leaf by Maya Abu-Alhayyat, translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2022). Translation copyright © 2022 Fady Joudah. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.


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