No one knows stone like me.
I seeded it in the fetus of the mountain,
and I reared it on blossoms of metal.
It grew like a walking child
and I followed in its footsteps.
Its silence is a listening heart
and its solitude is an alphabet that teaches speech,
a burnishing that suffices for treasures,
and imprints itself on books and mirrors.
I read in it the glass of paradise, and the amulets of passion.
It rises lightly, and offers the wind the company of books,
Solitary, and a companion to strangers.
Its water is the wakefulness of pinnacles.
It guards the sleep of trees, and bends.
At every slope it has an envoy washed by snow,
that it takes from the sea the messages of the waves.
With eyes that exude yearning in a stranger's childhood,
and chased like a tiger swinging in nets that dangle about me,
it listens to the pulse in arteries.
It glows and lusts, roves
It knows secrets and scandals,
is well-versed in the unseen
The rose takes from it its purpose,
and it gazes from the mountain
as the sky discloses and dissolves it shapes.
its names are in metals
and in the adversary's alibi.
a lover melting, its water is anxiety and the paradise of loss.
It endures love
and is filled with travel and desire for ecstasy,
It alone knows the history of my steps and my errors.
It forgives and forgets like me.
was born in Libya in 1964 and emigrated to the USA when he was 15. In 1995-96 he was Alfred Hod der Fellow at Princeton University. In 1998 he was awarded a Guggenheim Po etry Fellowship, the first time ever to an Arab-American. Ilispoetry has appeared in many US magazines. He has translat ed many Arab poets into English and won the University of Arkansas Press Award for Arabic Literature in Transla tion.
Translated by Khaled Mattawa From Naqd aL-Amal. Dar aL-Kunooz al-Adabiya, Beirut 1998