Mostafa Ebada – Her name is Munira

Ebada LE P&W June 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2023

Her name is Munira, poems by Mostafa Ebada.

Salwa GoudaTranslated from Arabic by Dr. Salwa Gouda.

Her name is Munira

With heavy, red eyelids
On the threshold of the house she sits
With needle and thread
And with every “stitch” she nurtures a soul
And pities for another
Or revives a third
She never distracted by dreams
And she does not know about tomorrow
Except when the goblins wake up
They stir up the dust in the path
And she is behind them, mending
And sewing days and hunger
And when the needle pricks her finger
And a blood thread appears
She sleeps
And we rejoice because her shadow sings while she sleeps


I did not cry her when dead
I stood counting her next age
I lick her secret wound
And her secret sadness and happiness
And her soft soul
She gathers Children and neighbors
She fights boredom
With needle and thread
Then she looks at my loneliness
“Shall I make you tea?” she asks.


When she died
She took her homes with her
And all the wounds she nursed
People rejoiced for her
And I am like a silent rock
Water and sorrow erupt from it


I did not cry her when dead
I cried her alive
She is crossing the distance between the old house
And the new in a blink of an eye
Because little “Mustafa” is crying
She fears for “Bashar” from the scorpions of summer
Covers “Nesma” or feels
“Khadija”’s head
Then look at my loneliness:
“Shall I make you tea?” she asks.


Believe it or not
Days will brighten
With my mom’s story
Who does not know poetry
And It does not fit her the description of an “angel”
She who raised a flock of angels
And no word describes her
She will stand before God
Before the angels
And she will name them for Him
This is the angel of sadness
And this is for the balance of tears
And this is for sorrow and sucking lips


Her name is tent
And her shadow is a garden from the sky
Her footsteps on the ground
Are greetings to dust
Her name is salutation
Her name is “The Wind as good tidings before his mercy.”
Birds roam around her and around the poems
I walk behind her
Like I am a kid again
Whenever I feel incomplete or lost
Language follows her
When it feels thirsty
Or when the metaphor leaves.


If I say hello to her, she cries
And if I say goodbye to her, she cries
As if, I am going to war
She does not ever look at my back
Her eyes are fixed on something in the distance
With tears
Tears are her Holy eloquence
Her name is Munira.

What can poetry do?

I am here to tell you something:
My dad
Sacrificed like all of your fathers
Then he leaned against a wall he knew
To count the number of years and the reckoning
He alone tended to his mood
And hides the details even from himself
Befriends little demons
And brothered the goblins of the night
The fairies of the earth landed at his feet
And he is chaste
Who ran his race
On mounds of gravel
He lived at the wrong time
And the place that dives
In the kingdom of dust
Who set fires
For a little spark
He knew some of his soul
And some words
And failed to speak

A pile of mud up there
Behind an old house
Where I lived
And where every light appeared
And everyone
Ordeal or test
Where the angels are frustrated
And despair eats them
And where every tomorrow
Not tomorrow


I want to immortalize my father
I did not consider his sorrows when he was old

His long embrace is over
His silence, his prayers and his supplication
I am, here, far away
Show his biography
And walk through his path
We were two prophets out in the open
And two days in a blind night
And an untrodden walking road
He is the master of his soul and his singing
And his faint chant is his melancholy

I am here
Welcome his presence
Like I am him
Like I am his echo


I am looking for a way to say:
IAM sad

And my memories that dive
In the kingdom of dust
Are sad
There is nothing but demons and lusts
And strange emotions
Nothing but gravel and dust
Then gravel and dust
A clean heart and dirty shoes
Short way
A life imperfectly perfect
And it is only glass
Fractured in the sole of the foot
And scratches in the rib cage


I tried to sing once
Defeats jumped out of my mouth
And broken glass
And thorns on the soles of the feet
And my father

Women bounced
And cold mornings
And deaths

I sang once
Then my mother’s voice:
What do we do with all these books?
Eat paper?

A quarter of a century later, I heard the same phrase
The whole pain
I did not stop at the right time
I never stopped
And I kept feeding the angels
And bring out the music
From anger like a butterfly
And a fragment of forbidden light


No river passes in front of our house
And I do not know of trees except thorny
With poor shadow
Acacia or camphor
Which contains eternal serpents and fear
I sleep not like the rest of creation
No pillows under my head
I forget a lot and get angry even more
When I sleep, I do not sleep
I dare not say:
I am dreaming
As I dream very much
And non-stop
I mislead myself by contentment and travel
And you ask me when I shut up:
What is with you?
You lost everything
And revived as a survivor


On a dark night like all nights
Terrible like southern nights
We heard a gasp
A black desperate cry
The men are silent
We stopped playing on the cotton hills
Lights out
And the singing fell silent

I wake up before everyone else
I got closer to the light
I traced the blood thread
And the fragmented head parts
As children’s snot
Under a palm tree
And the body is half in the water
And half of it is on dry land
In a channel of silence and flies
I woke up before everyone else
And I knew
I ran towards the houses
To my mom
Until the idea of homes faded in my eyes
And it became a mirage
Driven by fear and asceticism

Since that date
I have no home
My homes are all inside my heart
But I didn’t stop
The breathless running
And the dead man’s head did not stop
Visiting me
And you ask me when I shut up:
What is with you?


A long time ago
It grows around my body
Thorny trees
I am a serf of the land
I still am
My back broke

I have a latent wealth of grief and horror
Haunting me for half a century
Without hope of recovery
A long time ago
I take the gravel off the soul
As if, I had never been there

I do not want to go home
I do not want to go home
I hate the way home
And every time I say:
This is my last grief
This is my last time
And I don’t know what holds my body
To there.

© Mostafa Ebada 

Translated from Arabic by Dr. Salwa Gouda. She is an Egyptian academic at The English Language and Literature Department in Ain-Shams University. She is a PhD holder in English literature and criticism. She received her education at Ain-Shams University and at California State University in San Bernardino. She has published many academic books including Lectures in English Poetry, Introduction to Modern Literary Criticism and others. She also contributed to the translation of The Arab Encyclopedia for Pioneers including poets and their poetry, philosophers, historians and men of letters.

Mostafa Ebada (1965) is an Egyptian journalist, poet, essayist and critic. He works as the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram -Arabi Magazine. He is also the cultural advisor to some of the most important Egyptian publishing houses, such as: The Egyptian Lebanese House, Al-Mahrousa Center, and Dar Batana. He published more than 10 books in different creative genres such as poetry collections and cultural and literary studies.

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