The first day after his death she folded up her mirrors put a slipcover on the spider web then tied up the bed which was flapping its wings to take off The second day after his death she filled up her pockets with wood chips threw salt over the shoulder of her house and went off with a tree under each arm The third day after his death she swore at the pigeons lined up along her tears bit into a grape which scattered its down in her throat then called out till sunset to the man gone barefoot into the summer pasture in the cloudy mountains The fourth day a herd of buffalo barged into her bedroom demanding the hunter who spoke their dialect she shouldered her cry shot off a round which pierced the ceiling of her sleep The fifth day shoe-soles of blood imprinted themselves on her doorstep she followed them to that ditch where everything smells of boned hare The sixth day after his death she painted her face with earth attacked the peaceful shadows of passers-by slit the throats of trees their colorless blood evaporated when it touched her hands The seventh day stringy men sprouted in her garden she mistook them for poplars bit the armpits of their branches and lengthily vomited wood-chips The eighth day the sea whinnied at her door she washed her belly's embankments then called down to the river's mouth where men clashed together like pebbles The ninth day she dried her tears on the roof between the basil and the budding fog gazed at herself in stones found cracks in her eyes like those in a church's stained glass The tenth day he surged up out of her palm sat down on her fingernail demanded her usual words to drink and the almond odor of her knees. He swallowed them without pleasure on his journey he'd lost the taste for tortured water
From Here There Was Once A Country by Venus Khoury-Ghata, translated by Marilyn Hacker, and published by FIELD Translation Series, Oberlin, OH, Oberlin College. © 2001 by Marilyn Hacker. Used with permission. All rights reserved.