Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Norddine Zouitni

The hand and the page

In the next room
Five ghosts are staying up late:
The eldest is Irish, a character
In a story by James Joyce,
The others just passers-by
From the obituary page in an old newspaper.

They’re having their nightly chat
Over a couple of bottles of cheap wine
That the old Irish guy bought
With cash he swiped from a bank in Dublin.

There’s no light in the window,
No dense and thorny dark,
Just a table and five ghosts.

I’ve been there
With a thousand-year-old page in my hand,
Reading an old manuscript
By a medieval monk,
Perhaps Thomas A Kempis,
Or Saint Aquinas.
And I don’t know
What made me think for a second that I was
This writer’s ghost
And that the other ghosts surely knew.

When I woke the next day,
The place was as calm
As reed-beds after a storm.
The five chairs in place,
And the room neutral.

ليد والورقة

ليد والورقة

في الغرفة المجاورة
يسهر خمسة من الأشباح
أكبرهم شخصية إيرلندية
في قصة لجيمس جويس،
والآخرون عابرو سبيل
في صفحة للوفيات في جريدة قديمة.
كان الجميع يسمرون
حول زجاجتي خمر رخيصة
اقتناهما الإيرلندي العجوز
بقطع نقدية اختلسها من مصرف
بدبلن.

لم تكن النافذة مضاءة
ولا الظلام شائكا كثيفا!
فقط طاولة وخمسة من الأشباح.

كنت هنا
وفي يدي الورقة الألوفيه،
أقرأ في مخطوطة قديمة
لراهب قروسطي
لعله توما آكيمبس
أو القديس أكويناس
ولست أدري ما الذي جعلني
في لحظة أظن أنني شبح كاتب
المخطوطة
وأن الخمسة أشباح دون شك يعرفون...

في الغد عندما استيقظت
كان المكان هادئا
كحقل قصب من بعد عاصفة
الخمسة كراسي فس مكانها
والغرفة محايدة.
Close

The hand and the page

In the next room
Five ghosts are staying up late:
The eldest is Irish, a character
In a story by James Joyce,
The others just passers-by
From the obituary page in an old newspaper.

They’re having their nightly chat
Over a couple of bottles of cheap wine
That the old Irish guy bought
With cash he swiped from a bank in Dublin.

There’s no light in the window,
No dense and thorny dark,
Just a table and five ghosts.

I’ve been there
With a thousand-year-old page in my hand,
Reading an old manuscript
By a medieval monk,
Perhaps Thomas A Kempis,
Or Saint Aquinas.
And I don’t know
What made me think for a second that I was
This writer’s ghost
And that the other ghosts surely knew.

When I woke the next day,
The place was as calm
As reed-beds after a storm.
The five chairs in place,
And the room neutral.

The hand and the page

In the next room
Five ghosts are staying up late:
The eldest is Irish, a character
In a story by James Joyce,
The others just passers-by
From the obituary page in an old newspaper.

They’re having their nightly chat
Over a couple of bottles of cheap wine
That the old Irish guy bought
With cash he swiped from a bank in Dublin.

There’s no light in the window,
No dense and thorny dark,
Just a table and five ghosts.

I’ve been there
With a thousand-year-old page in my hand,
Reading an old manuscript
By a medieval monk,
Perhaps Thomas A Kempis,
Or Saint Aquinas.
And I don’t know
What made me think for a second that I was
This writer’s ghost
And that the other ghosts surely knew.

When I woke the next day,
The place was as calm
As reed-beds after a storm.
The five chairs in place,
And the room neutral.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère