No More and No Less

Translated by Fady Joudah
I am a woman. No more and no less
I live my life as it is
thread by thread
and I spin my wool to wear, not
to complete Homer’s story, or his sun.
And I see what I see
as it is, in its shape,
though I stare every once
in a while in its shade
to sense the pulse of defeat,
and I write tomorrow
on yesterday’s sheets: there’s no sound
other than echo.
I love the necessary vagueness in
what a night traveler says to the absence
of birds over the slopes of speech
and above the roofs of villages
I am a woman, no more and no less

The almond blossom sends me flying
in March, from my balcony,
in longing for what the faraway says:
“Touch me and I’ll bring my horses to the water springs.”
I cry for no clear reason, and I love you
as you are, not as a strut
nor in vain
and from my shoulders a morning rises onto you
and falls into you, when I embrace you, a night.
But I am neither one nor the other
no, I am not a sun or a moon
I am a woman, no more and no less

So be the Qyss of longing,
if you wish. As for me
I like to be loved as I am
not as a color photo
in the paper, or as an idea
composed in a poem amid the stags …
I hear Laila’s faraway scream
from the bedroom: Do not leave me
a prisoner of rhyme in the tribal nights
do not leave me to them as news …
I am a woman, no more and no less

I am who I am, as
you are who you are: you live in me
and I live in you, to and for you
I love the necessary clarity of our mutual puzzle
I am yours when I overflow the night
but I am not a land
or a journey
I am a woman, no more and no less

And I tire
from the moon’s feminine cycle
and my guitar falls ill
string
by string
I am a woman,
no more
and no less!

Mahmoud Darwish, "No More and No Less " from The Butterfly’s Burden. Copyright © 2008 by Mahmoud Darwish, English translation by Fady Joudah.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. www.coppercanyonpress.org
Source: The Butterfly’s Burden (Copper Canyon Press, 2007)
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