Robin Moger Translates Sukaina Habiballah

From the Aperture Foundation’s Paul Strand Book by Joel Meyerowitz. Source:

nes t ree

in turn I bore straw

much straw and went

in search of a tree to make

my nest but a tree I did not find 

and with the straw I’d gleaned I packed

my chest I picked a field and I stood upright there 


Familiar wounds

Everything in you grew, but not your hand. 

Whenever they pushed your way a finger,

A dry stick or a blade, 

Incautious, undiscerning

As a babe’s,

Your rude fist wrapped it round

And clung.    


The living

in reverence fit

for the coffin which bears it 

in black fit 

for the procession where it moves

walks silently 

our shadow


The small flame

The small flame

Which when we blow on the candle’s

Wiped away,

Where does it go? Where does it go?


What scares

What scares us in the scarecrow,

Said the birds,

What makes us fly off far away,

It is those two arms of theirs, 

Those two arms ever open, some

Wrong readiness to embrace



We picked from the tree its tears

How far we went to not arrive, how weak

The longing like a palm leaf which began

To sweep over our footprints

So our way back be gone.

But now we are here,

And on the garden’s only tree

The boughs are hung with pears

All but from their lashes dropped

Like they wept apples.


The original poems can be read here