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Six Poems by Maram Al-Massri

You must have 
your papers
and returned to retrieve them.

a friend must have called 
and begun to chatter
as you were about to leave.

Or you must
be waiting for me 
in another café.

I thought
they were your steps 
those quick
in my heart.

Like grains of salt 
they shone
then melted.
This is how they disappeared, 
those men
who did not love me.

You are very different from them...
Your distinction:
My kiss 
is on
your mouth.

Desire inflames me 
and my eyes glimmer. 
I stuff morals
in the nearest drawer,
I turn into the Devil 
and blindfold my angels 
for a kiss.

How foolish:
Whenever my heart 
hears a knocking
it opens its doors.

Translated by Khaled Mattawa

Maram al-Massri, a Syrian poet who has lived in Paris since 1984, characterizes herself as “this mix between the submissive and rebellious woman.” Fluent in French and English, she continues to write her epigrammatic, amatory poetry in Arabic. These poems, taken from Maram al-Massri’s collection Red-Cherry on a White-tiled Floor, are translated by the well-known poet and translator Khaled Mattawa and are published by Copper Canyon Press. They are reprinted with permission.

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