Neighbouring Sounds

by Ghassan Zaqtan

Yesterday I became aware of some cheerful steps
before I heard a “besmala”
whose dust was weeping.

I had just seen a woman
who was alight for a moment and then vanished…
but her coat lingered in the shadows.

I heard a music from the neighbouring basement,
a string instrument falling and withering,
and a wrecked laugh that had arrived from the tunnels
under the house, a laugh whose yarn
time surrounds and whose swerve
is led by some damp metal.

And I saw in what the blind see
a sound in the garden,
its form
and breath,
before I woke up alone…
some murmur sprang from the walls
and resembled the air
as it says to you: Here… here

or the air saying to you: Here
                                                 here

Who’s in the city besides us?

Translated by Fady Joudah