Three Poems from Lebanon

translated by Huda J. Fakhreddine

An Offering

O Leaves, O Flowers!
We hold you in our hands as offerings.
We stir in you the ruin of winter,
the swell of summer.
Say a little something, 
when we tremble.
We have no need for you 
if you were 
leaves and flowers.



Behind the windowpane,
a cherry in my mouth,
I then
fold on myself
like an oyster
and the fear disappears:

That whistling was the wind.
It is wise enough to know
when to fly by
and where to sting.


Death passes
followed by the photograph.
Picasso postpones time
and the negative pins it down like a nail.


A Letter to Faulkner

It is not about the sound and the fury
but about something infinitely gentle,
something infinitely calm:
You lie with your face toward language,
and it touches you like bunny noses
in a fairy tale.
Close your eyes, if you were lonely,
if you were sad,
or open them a leaf or two, if happy, 
an augury of spring.
The letters split like half loaves of bread.
The letters unite like a rib cage full of love.
It is not about the sound and the fury.
Only falcons screech and riot
and bleed death.
Poetry, my beloved, 
is the fish of your eighth miracle
in a lake gently dancing
as you sleep.

Mohamad Nassereddine was born in 1977 in South Lebanon. He is the author of seven poetry collections, the most recent of which is Cages in Search of Birds (Dar al-Nahda al-Arabiyya, 2019). He holds a PhD in medical engineering and teaches at the Lebanese University. He is also a translator and cultural journalist who regularly publishes interviews, translations, and reviews in the cultural appendix of the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

Huda J. Fakhreddine is an assistant professor of Arabic literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Metapoesis in the Arabic Tradition (Brill, 2015).