Poems by
Soad Sabah

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At the Beginning Woman Was
Merely Feminine

By Soad Sabah, translated by Ada Aharoni

I could -
like most women,
behave like a woman is supposed to behave,
I could idly sift a cup of coffee
in the warmth of my bed
and talk on the phone without end
hours and days

I could all day just make myself pretty
I could put on make-up
I could be coquettish,
I could idly bronze myself in the sun,
Glide over the waves
like feminine women do
and glorify my body like a queen

I could do nothing,
not read anything
not write anything,
just amble in the light
just run after fashion and travel

I could agree not to refuse anything
not to be angry
not to explode before catastrophes
I could silently swallow my tears
and run away from historic riddles
and hide from soul revision

I could escape the groans of all who hurt
and the cries of all the miserable
and the thousands dying

However I rebelled against all
the so-called laws of womanhood -
and I chose to confront the word.

Return to the Coop

By Soad Sabah, translated by Ada Aharoni

When an Arab woman travels
To Paris, London or Rome,
She becomes a dove,
She flies over statues,
She drinks water from the fountains
And she feeds the ducks on the lakes.

And on returning home,
When the captain commands to shut the belts
And refrain from smoking -
The dream vanishes
The music of the fountain stops
The ducks' white feathers fly up in the air -
And she enters the coop
Like all the other hens.

Chief and Mentor

By Soad Sabah, translated by Ada Aharoni

The baby suckles his mother's breasts
to his fill,
he reads in the light of her eyes
until he learns how to read and write,
steals coins from her purse to buy cigarettes,
walks all over her weakened bones
until he completes his studies at the college.

And when he becomes a man,
he crosses his legs in the elegant coffee houses,
and declares in press conferences:
woman possesses merely half the intelligence,
half of the faith.

Flies clap hands in approval
and so do the crowds of waiters.


Copyright (c) Ada Aharoni