Ali Atta – Woman

Atta LE P&W July 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing July 2023

Woman, poems by Ali Atta.

Salwa GoudaTranslated from Arabic by Dr. Salwa Gouda.

Mouse Moving Pictures

I am the one who lies on purpose
And almost from excessive remorse
I say:
“Watch out… there is a liar in front of you”
Those who are fond of lying smile
And sometimes they giggle
“We know you better than you know yourself.”
But I never believe
And I severely cry, every time I seduce
A girl to my virtual room
What should have been
To say and I do not say ?
What did I miss feeling
When the kind girl wrote:
“Hug me within your bounds”
And I wrote
Words not from the heart
And I stayed for days
Getting her to grasp at straws
Although still on the beach
What made me call her “darling”?
While the ether is cold as a corpse
And the roses, kisses and hugs
Even the cup of tea
And the smiling faces
And the sad and shy
Are just mouse-over pictures

Even if she had a Different Name

I may have known
A girl named Reem
Or I didn’t know her
But I need her now
more than ever
And from a time has yet to come
Even if her mother
calls her by another name
I do not remember watching
Any of the Marilyn Monroe movies
who is said to have “committed suicide”
when I was
about to exist
in my mother’s womb
Yet I remember her
Whenever I watch a movie by Hind Rostom
Or whenever the girl called “Maryam” came to my mind
Who was also fun
Like “Maryam” Karim Abdel Salam
I remember
When she invited me to dance
At a friend’s wedding
Then she suddenly said:
“Marry me while I am embracing my religion
And you are embracing your mother’s religion”
She was giggling loudly
in that night
But she deliberately burned her mother’s heart
When she spilled the “gasoline”
on her tattered clothes
And ignited sulfur
Inside the bathroom of their dilapidated house
She refused to be discharged from the hospital
Except to her grave
Stipulated that they put
Over her burning body
The dress she bought
With her “lifetime savings”
To wear in the wedding night

Her Back to the Wall

The girl who leaned her back
Against the wall
While her husband was
Serving the penalty of absconding
From the military service
Was honest in her shock
When I put it in her hand
A few pounds
And I said: I am like your brother
but I do not know
If she had said
to anyone but me
That her brother who is older than her
by a few years
Take off his innocence
at the early years of her childhood
Her back was to the wall
when a chest was split
And the tears flew
I gasped in astonishment
Like I got away in an instant
from death
and i wept like I did
The day they buried my father
– before I bid him farewell-
in a tomb
We have nothing to do with it

Five minutes before the Dawn Call

The girl who got high
Five minutes before the dawn call
Once I said
I think about her so much
She accuses me of holding the stick in the middle
As she does not like death
While I neither like nor hate it
I’m just afraid it is overtaking me now
So I rot before my neighbor notices
My neighbor who fears
For his wife from me
His wife, whom I have not seen
Or I never hear her voice

© Ali Atta

Ali Atta (1963) is an Egyptian writer, novelist, journalist, and poet. He was born in Mansoura, Dakahlia Governorate. He works for the Middle East News Agency and for the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper in Cairo. He published more than seven books including novels, short stories and poetry anthologies.

Salwa Gouda 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 Encyclopaedia for Pioneers including poets and their poetry, philosophers, historians and men of letters.

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