Maha Otoum – A poet passed through here

Otoum LE Arabic Poetry September 2023

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Live Encounters Arab Poets in Translation August 2023

A poet passed through here, poems by Maha Otoum.

A poet passed through here

I knew
And I know that way
In which I was lost
And I still walk it and get lost
I pass it from the night
I forget the bullets that
Pierce sleeping
I forget winter
Which makes lovers
Prophets or poets
I only remember the letters of the alphabet

I will draw a line pointing to the house
My house is words
In which I lived like its trees
I entertain myself and creep up
And I took noon naps in it
And I slept at its door
Like a swing
My house will become my words
And It is emptied when I die
And inhabited by strangers

I will draw two lines
Life passes between them
Like a river
A thin line of water
I hold pebbles in it
And it becomes a way
For a poet who passed from here:

The pebbles are my steps
And those lines on the water
Are what remained of me
And from my words.

The Shadow of Fingers

A woman shook your hand
And the shadow of her fingers remained in the poem
Clearer than a chronic disease
You almost forgot to write about it
But her symptoms
Like a mild rash
Go and come
The poem is like a prey
I said:
I follow
But I hunt other than it
And I said, treat it like a dog
But it caught me

Two sides of illusion

There is water
Seen in speech
To make it clear and its fish shining
Or the crow throws dust at it
And the rill laughs at us

We might try our shirts to fly

But we don’t fly


You miss the details
In the margin of the text
You may leave homes with their inhabitants
And a laundry
Which mothers hang with their eyelashes
They fly like their dreams
And you forget that you are clumsy in love
When you write about love
How many streets in the poem
You did not cross
How many streets crossed you
And you did not write them

You wrote
Because the distance is clear
In the poem
Between tears
And between your eyes
You still cannot master crying
And you do not know a heaven
Only poetry to shed
And to cast

Because you are alone in the pit
Do not hold the ropes
And wait for the shadows
Which follow

Because you are alone

© Maha Otoum

Maha Otoum is a poet and an academic. She holds a PhD in Literature and Modern Criticism. She is also member of the Jordanian Writers Association. Among her poetic works: Circles of Mud 1999, Half of It is Lilac 2006, More like Her Dreams 2010, Down the River 2013, and Upper Rooms 2019. She received the Jordanian State Appreciation Award in 2017.

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