Woman of Mint

She hauls her desire from the anguish of thorns,
whispering: sunlight abides in you.
She is followed by the aroma of a fleeting moment
which she ignites with the perfume of Spring.
Not once does she gasp for breath.
Only wild nettle sates her desire:
his hair alone will make her easy.

His presence delights the scenery.
He populates vacancy.
He takes the pure mint with the force of his leaves,
scarring her deep inside.
His sting... his victory.
Her breath stopped, as if for eternity.
Then he tickles her elbow with his sting.

Translation notes

This is the first part of a sequence of four poems, the others being 'Woman of Grapes', 'Woman of Coffee' and 'Woman of Almonds'. Like the other poems of Fatena's we've translated, it's very highly charged and erotic.

Poetry in English is filled with poems that use plants to articulate gender. By and large, it's men poets who continually compare women to fragile, delicate flowers (think of Robert Herrick's numerous poems - but see also Emily Dickinson's celebration of the clover, 'There is a Flower the Bees Prefer'. (For a discussion of the poetry of plants in relation to gender, see the Introduction to Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of Botanical Verse, by Sarah Maguire).

It's fascinating to witness a woman poet writing in Arabic using a 'feminine' mint plant and a 'masculine' nettle to express her feelings about gender.


1 Manuel


2 Jack

so great to read poems by women from palestine

Leave a comment