Kinder Than Miriam

by Kajal Ahmad

Marys of my country! When death becomes a necessity,
let us mothers face it first and not our children.


Our nation is as lonely
as Father Adam was
before the fertile
arrival of Mother Eve.
Our nation is lonely
and I am lonely.
Boredom has grown
like a fungus in my heart
but I haven't wearied.
My laughter was once
like warm bread in the mouth,
now it curls at the edges.
Ah, poets, I have been
like a pregnant woman
but I haven't miscarried my poems
nor has poetry miscarried me.

Jesus, when are you coming?
I am standing on the Sirat*,
about to fall from the bridge.
I have cried so much
in the house of love and poetry
that the pool of my tears
is covered in algae.
With or without poetry, I'm waiting.
Waiting to cross, waiting for you.
Talking to no avail and who knows
if it's all about me or the earth?

After a wave of nausea,
You fell from the wound of my mouth.
You were a sheet of light.
After your birth
words bled and never stopped.
Blood made me a poet,
the mad poet Miriam.

Before you were born, I came
and built a bridge myself
between the land of my heart
and the sky of your skull.
(The bleeding still goes on -
will it be for ever?) At that time,
the cross hadn't found you yet.
It searched for you everywhere.
Had I known it would be unkind,
right there at your birth,
I would have told you to return
to the safe womb of your mother.
Had I known they would call you
the Son of God, I would never
have let you come in the first place.
How can God be the father of my son
if I have never spent a single night
in his embrace? And if I have,
why call me the Virgin Mother?

 

*

Tell me, light of my eyes!
who do you think is the purer,
me or Miriam?
Who is more in love?
Is the wound in my heart
deeper than hers?
It's not for me to say
but you, light of my eyes,
loving singer, Jesus, tell me!
Don't call me Miriam
or you'll hurt my pride
and my heart will break.
Surely, as a mother, I am kinder.
Miriam and I differ in this:
were I unable to purchase
your life with my own.
I'd rather go blind and keep
my eyes eternally open.
If I couldn't be crucified
in your stead, how could I sit by,
complacently in a corner?
And in this, too, we differ:
unlike her, I couldn't give you away,
not to anyone, not even to God -
my heart wouldn't let me.
God is no mother whose heart
burns with pity and who grieves
over losing a child.
Motherhood is a grave sorrow
and I become a mother
while I was still a virgin.

Since I gave birth to Christ
and you doubt my virginity,
raise your knives, I don't care.
Jesus of sand ... Jesus, father ...
What am I here for,
if not to expose the world's lies?
I won't wait for you to die.
Just this once, my only child,
instead of holding your grey
and grieving guitar,
embrace your mother's corpse.
I'll die first, I'll make sure of that.
I won't live to see the day
that your death lies in my lap.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Choman Hardi

The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati

Notes

*Sirat: the bridge mentioned in the Qur'an which must be crossed to reach heaven.

Comments

  1. June 8th, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Sampurna says:

    I just wanted to send a quick note to be able to thank you for these incredible poems on your website. Thanks a lot once more for everything.