Home > Poetry > The Fence
Saadi Youssef
Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
Published: Thu Oct 15 1998
Art: Paul TheriaultEver New (detail), 2022, acrylic and found paper on scavenged wood
The Fence

Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa

His house was exposed to dust from the street.
His garden, blooming with red carnations,
was open to dogs
and strange insects,
open to cat claws.
The red carnations, when they bloomed for two days,
were a feast to the dogs
and strange insects,
a feast to cats and their claws.
Dust from the street invading the tender petals.
Salt on the flowers,
salt on hair,
salt on a moon turning in its clothes.

One day he remembered
how his grandfather built the family house.

 

Saadi Youssef was born in Iraq in 1933. He worked in teaching and journalism in Kuwait, Algeria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, Yemen, and France. His works include fifteen volumes of poetry, a novel, three books of criticism, and translations of Whitman, Cavafy, Ritsos, and Ngugi wa Thiongo, among others. He left Iraq in 1979 and now lives in Jordan. (1998)

Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya, and emigrated to the United States when he was a teenager. He later received his MFA from Indiana University, where he also taught creative writing and received the Academy of American Poets Award. His books include _Ismailia Eclipse _(Sheep Meadow, 1995) and Amorisco (Ausable, 2008). (2010)

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Saadi Youssef was born in Iraq in 1933. He worked in teaching and journalism in Kuwait, Algeria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, Yemen, and France. His works include fifteen volumes of poetry, a novel, three books of criticism, and translations of Whitman, Cavafy, Ritsos, and Ngugi wa Thiongo, among others. A collection of his selected poems, translated by Khaled Mattawa, was released as _Without an Alphabet, Without a Face _by Graywolf Press in 2002. He now lives in Jordan. (updated 1998)

Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya, and emigrated to the United States when he was a teenager. He later received his MFA from Indiana University, where he also taught creative writing and received the Academy of American Poets Award. His books include Ismailia Eclipse (Sheep Meadow, 1995) and Amorisco (Ausable, 2008). (updated 6/2010)
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