translated by George Dimitri Selim
Zaynab complained against me
to the judge of love.
“He has sly eyes,” she told him,
which roam around me
to devour my beauty.
Judge of love!
I am not safe anymore.
“I think his eyes are two bees
raiding the honey
which sweetens my lips.
I see them as two eagles
hovering in space,
descending to snatch me.
I think, and from my fear,
I think strange things.
God knows how much I suffer from my thoughts.
“He invaded me with his eyes
and, as if this weren’t enough,
he tried to lower my standing among people.
Hypocritically, he said
that I have stolen my beauty from the universe,
and that it was not created naturally in me.
That I have plundered the morning for a face,
the dusk for hair,
uniting both in me.
That from the gardens
I have stolen the flowers for cheeks
—my cheeks are rosy.
That I have covered my neck with pure snow,
and that my eyes are tinted with narcissus.
“When my voice enchanted him
he denied it, and said:
‘It’s a nightingale singing in the garden.’
With sword-like glances I struck him,
he said, and in his deep-red blood
I dyed my finger tips
and in his poems he chanted alluding to me.
So people said:
‘His meanings are necklaces of pearls.’
Lord of verdicts!
Administer your justice between us.
Enough of his straying in love.
I’ve had enough!”
When the time of complaint was over,
the judge asked me:
“What is your answer,
you who are so passionately in love?”
“I find…that I am a criminal.
My insanity may not be deferred.
She has dispossessed me
of mind and heart.”
From Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry (Interlink Books, 2000). Used with permission of the editors, Gregory Orfalea and Sharif Elmusa, and Interlink Book. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 24, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.