MY ARM HURTS
When one of them dies you realize
Parents are like limbs:
They don’t stop hurting amputated.
Moaning theatrically to tell the world
How long suffering she has been,
The one who hasn’t died draws up
At the threshold to her chamber,
One hand on the peeling door frame
Apparently to keep standing.
I can only see the back of her
As I go on pacing the hall.
Cramps, burns, festering lacerations…
How could I have saved my arm from
The battering of the years?
It is not that I like the old crutch;
I just feel sorry for all that it has suffered
Which makes it a terrible burden,
Unwanted and perpetually distressed.
That must be why I tend to it,
Crank my neck till it hurts
To excavate the knots of pain
In its furrows of tired sinew.
Suddenly my mother crosses over,
No longer moaning. And before I stop,
I see her hand hovering to the ceiling.
Lighter than all the burdens in the world,
She reminds me: I, who wished him dead,
Will never be rid of my father.
© Youssef Rakha
Rewritten from Arabic by the author