Isthmus of the Wind



Isthmus of the Wind



Translated from the Arabic by Salma Harland*


Words were not

The sole

Signifier of loss

For T. S. Eliot,

But Being-in-itself

Where the beginning is the end

—In my beginning is my end,

Traces of old fires,

The perpetual star of hope

In the long journey of the Magi

For a Birth like Death,

Omar Khayyam’s history of the Soul

Which you read as a young man

In my end is my beginning.

Each step is bound to incompleteness

Without a word:

There is the rub,

The light crossing the distance in-between.

Where is the other voice, then?

The non-voice,

The muse of imagination

In the old lyric:

“April is the cruellest month”,

The rose-red wound

Kindling in a poet’s heart

Like an ancient fire?

A language signifying nothing:

That is the isthmus of the wind.

In the middle of the road

We diverge

To celebrate

New endings.

Now the poem

Is complete

For all it lacks is words.



Salma Harland is an Egyptian-born, UK-based translator. She has an MA in Literature and Philosophy from the University of Sussex, a PGCert in Translation and Interpreting from the American University in Cairo, and a BA in Translation from October 6 University. Her literary translations (from and into Arabic and English) have appeared in ArabLit Quarterly, Turjoman, Romman Magazine, Egyptian Researchers, among others.


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