Sarah Keryna

Translated from the French by Virginia Konchan


The feature film that we had missed
was called Black Screen.

Cellars where one is tortured,
I wanted to leave,
I returned downstairs.

Sometimes the train stops
in the middle of the tunnel,
the passengers fall silent.

In the first scene
a man found dead,
his body in a ditch.

January 9, 2002

the photo he gave me,
in black and white:
portrait of myself,
with closed eyes.

February, Sunday rain,
third consecutive day.

The end of the franc.
The Palindrome.

By my window,
the winter mimosa is a vibrant yellow,

Every day, we spend
fifteen minutes
searching for something.

---At the summit of Porto Alegre,
the official language is Spanish.
Three times out of four,

the monthly calendar
of March is the exact replica
of that of February.

A block of ice
detached itself
from the North Pole.

The landscape is a character.

The collapsing of the first tower
halted for a moment

before beginning again.

Turning on my radio
I hear it’s been six months.

It’s the 11th of March.

French films are subtitled in English.

suicide attack military revenge suicide attack military revenge attack


The first Wednesday
of the month’s sirens.

Easter Sunday.

It is one hour later.

Who is the father of Richard Dunn?

April 9, 2002

My mother and I,
silent before the grave.

Two names, and four dates.
My grandmother,

her daughter.

The Aubrac’s plateau
reaches out to three departments:
Cantal, Lozère, Aveyron.

Porto of my Childhood,
Savage Innocence
A Pure Coincidence

The low walls of grey stone.

And the sensation
of grass undulating
upon the legs.

August 9, 2001

In the stopped train,
station Neussargues,
heading for Saint-Chély-d’Apcher.

The photograph of me
in black and white

on the toboggan.

22 years later,
the scenery is the same.

April 11, 2002.

I ask myself: Where was his street when he lived here

January 9, 2002

- always surprising,
from one time to another

how little I remember
his face -

August, 2001

The train slows before crossing the viaduct.

The passengers rise to watch below.

April 12, 2002

The front of the house can be seen from the path.

Seven years after, all is still there.

A place is a place.

The sheets hang on theclothesline in back of the garden.

The scent of the kitchen.

The noise of footsteps on the gravel.
French films in the country, in summer.

January 9, 2002

cannot be said.

August 9, 2001

The steeples above.
-The city is black and sad.

When the lights turn off,
the audience falls silent:
voices murmur from the back.

A place in the night,
I had left my bags.
I backed away.

In the car on the way back,
tear gas blocked
the demonstrators.

American films
with a detective,
and a psychopathic murderer.

August 7, 2001

The back of the building
seen from the road.

- They cut down my ash tree.

14 years later,
the faces are the same.

August 22, 2001

In the train,
headed for Saint-Pierre-des-Corps.

A woman is leaving
to meet up with a man
in her hometown.

The video images, from archives, they tremble, move, they are fuzzy.

The multiplication of points of view

on the collapse of Carlo Guiliani,

heightens the feeling of confusion.

April 7, 2002

The family united.
My grandfather stands up

and begins to speak.

August 7, 2001

My nurse suddenly looks at me
for a second,

then, moved, says my name.

The interior
border is the Loire.

Northern origins,
childhood in the South.

“If you fall
into a whirlpool
and let yourself go,
after a moment,
you always end up coming back to the surface.”

(or something like that)

The sound comes from indirect sources.

A black screen,
calls for help.

Flashes of bodies
in freefall

from the first tower
felled before the second

although touched first.

April 9, 2002

With my grandfather
on the banks of the river,

for the last time.

August 21, 2001

The sound of helicopters
above the city
and the tanks in the streets.

The crowd is huddled together
with black armbands.
We sit down.

The police in front.

At the announcement of the election, they cradle their faces
in their hands. They wail.

Dirty, blocked showers
I had to wash myself,
I left again later.

And “The chignon of Olga,”

A procession in the rain.
Streamers, slogans, tambourines.
Posters that say "No."

suicide attack military

response suicide

military response attack

Outside my window, the trees of Judea have lost their flowers.

October 4, 2002 Saint-Lô

The bouquets, the colors.
The scent of fresh petals.

Above the grave
we make a sign.

Under the stone,
my grandmother,
her daughter

my grandfather.

October, 2002

In the train toward Paris,
returning from Compiègne.

- From time to time
I am fully amazed

That I so little
remember his face -

When the demonstrators
pass under their windows,
the occupants applaud.

August 24, 2001

The map of crosses,
and the wire bridge wrought

                               with spiders.

They don't know
if the character

must die

at the end of the story.

Born in Jerusalem in 1978, Najwan Darwish is an acclaimed Palestinian poet. His work has been translated into over 20 languages, and his 2014 book Nothing More to Lose was listed as one of NPR’s best books of the year.

Kareem James Abu-Zeid is a translator of poets and novelists from across the Arab world. His work has earned him an NEA translation grant (2018), PEN Center USA’s Translation Award (2017), and Poetry Magazine‘s translation prize (2014).

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