Lust is a mad adventure -
a struggle in the streets


Escape is a waltz with the clouds,
steps that vanish on the feathers of a dove


The sound of the sea: an accursed city
And the moon laughs mockingly
Water alone knows the secret of drowning
and the wave is master of improvisation


The streets are barefoot
Rain turns wild


Gossip all the time
unless we drain it
from our blood


Adrenaline overwhelms us
when we're impaled by desire


Can you unveil my palm
without a kiss
or a bomb?


Tap... tap... tap...
From now on, no gates
to this city

Translation notes

The first encounter with the literal translation of a poem is often baffling and off-putting, and this poem by Fatena Al-Gharra was no exception. Until we started to work on each tiny poem, the whole thing made no sense at all. But as we finished each section, the piece fell into place and we felt very pleased with our results.


1 Faris Mughal

Can you unveil my palm
without a kiss
or a bomb?

iam also a poet but iam speechless after reading these three lines.

2 Sophie

Beautiful. I love the complex sense of fragmentation and repetition, working together like musical variations (or, like the wave, “improvisations”)—but also bearing out the poem’s observations about the way in which desire can fragment us as individuals and cohere us in relation. It’s striking how this poem feels distinct from contemporary Anglo poetry in its form, its imagistic vocabulary and sensibility, and yet the translation conjures something quite conversational while at the same time rich in a distinct lyrical tradition.

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