The Other Side of Darkness*

By Laila al-Othman

Gentlemen:
Yes, yesterday has ended.
The sun ended the joys of our weddings,
our circumstances have deteriorated
 our thoughts retarded
wolves have torn off our flesh

Gentlemen:
The fruits of our fields are dried up,
the heaven’s produce drained,
no single rose
no single cloud
only night’s darkness remained
and a fragment of a mirage...

Gentlemen:
Yesterday has ended.
The sun has set
the birds flown away,
the crows occupied our homes

     dreaming of crippling us
     extinguishing the flame of youth in our spirits.

Alas, should cave–dwellers take over
allowing the gouging of the eyes,
amputating the noses,
burying women alive
subjecting us to the rule of the sword

Gentlemen:
What will remain here?
If they fetter the nightingale,
disturb the day
restrict speech,
cut strings,
and tear apart the drums of our weddings?

Gentlemen:
What will remain
if tumors spread,
tunes are stilled
pens are broken
if the best of literature is burned?
 

What will remain, O’homeland
abundant in wealth,
lightened by the stars?
The sparrows which became hawks
deny us joy
confiscate our morning
and close the doors to guests.

Attention Gentlemen:
They plant thorns in women’s ways
counter enlightenment with darkness
spread in our country as a plague.
Come together and cooperate brothers.
Protect “the country of light” from the evil of misfortune

Translated from the Arabic by the late Noel Abdulahad

This poem appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 7, no. 36 (Summer 2001)

*This text by Laila al-Othman is part of her response to the charges leveled against her by Kuwaiti prosecutors.(For more on the case against the Kuwaiti author see Al Jadid, Vol. 5, no. 29, 1999.) The Arabic text appeared in the Lebanese daily As Safir.

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