In an occasional series of new poems from around the world in English translation, POETRY MATTERS is pleased to bring you two poems from Syrian poet Shurouk Hammoud.
Interview with the remains of a Syrian man
What did the war do to the air?
– It dressed it in heartbreak,
in canned salt and smoke.
What were you waiting for before you died?
– I was waiting for the dawn’s smile
I had painted as a lover in my imagination.
What did the trees dream of when you told them
about the wind that was coming for you?
– They dreamed of dancing,
they dreamed of many things they could not speak of.
Was there another reality bleeding into your daydreams?
– Yes, and in my nightdreams it found me;
I grew heavy with yet another separation.
So, are you the same person now as before the war?
– No one comes back from war empty-handed.
Have you ever noticed the photos of poetesses
they include with their books?
They are always pale, despite
the desperate attempts of their makeup
to hide the fallen autumn leaves
that lie on their eyelids.
Their rooms overflow with books;
paintings of their sisters in sorrow
hide the wrinkles on their walls,
A pet that is often ugly,
cheap cigarettes whose remains
accumulate like mass graves,
a bed that elicits only a groan,
and that failed attempt to smile …
This is how they look, their photos. And, oh, my mirror,
I am no better than them,
though I don’t have a camera to document this loneliness
and inspire a poetess somewhere
to write a poem
as naked as this one.
ABOUT THE POET
Shurouk Hammoud is a Syrian poet, journalist, editor and literary translator. Born in 1982, she has a BA in Arts and an MA in textual translation from the University of Damascus. She has three published poetry collections in Arabic, and two in English: The Night Papers and Blind Time. A member of the Palestinian writers and journalists’ union, she is an honorary member at NAJI Naaman international library of culture, and a representative of Syria in the international literary movement “immaginepoesia”. She has won many awards for her poetry and has been appointed Ambassador of the Word by the Spanish foundation Cesar Egido Serrano, in 2016. Her poetry has been translated into French, Spanish, Polish, Serbian, Bengali, Mandarin, German, Romanian, Macedonian, Czech, Hindi, Swedish, Italian and Chinese. These poems are translated into English by her, with some small assistance from Pat Boran.