Nadine Yasser: Insomnia

Tereza Zelenkova, from ” Snake That Disappeared Through a Hole in the Wall”, 2018. Source: 1000wordsmag.com

The shadows in that room always looked a bit hysterical. It may have had something to do with how tall the walls were. It only had one tiny, too high to reach, which made it look like it was there just to freak you out. Perhaps my brother was right; he said it looked like a prison cell. He wanted me to move into the room with better lighting, but it had two big windows. Windows made me uncomfortable; I was barely okay with one. I could never shake off the feeling of being watched. It’s a bit of an egotistical belief, to think that someone or something would leave everything behind to watch your every move. But, egotistical or not, the feeling never left me.

I’ve been lying in bed for three days straight, only leaving my room when absolutely necessary. A crippling numbness took over my body from time to time, and this was one of those times. What followed this inexplicable numbness was always the same repetitive scenario. Having been in bed for a couple of days, I’d get up after midnight with an urge to escape. I’d feel myself being pushed out of my bed and out the door. Every time, my brother would be waiting for me next to the front door, holding it open, and closing it behind me. I’d start walking; everything would go blank from then on.

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Ulayya bint al-Mahdi’s Epigram by Yasmine Seale

Gustav_Klimt_046

Gustav Klimt,  Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907. Source: Wikipedia

To love two people is to have it 

coming: body nailed to beams,

dismemberment.

But loving one is like observing

religion.

I held out until fever 

broke me. 

How long can grass

brave fire?

If I did not have hope

that my heart’s master’s

heart might bend to mine, 

I would be stranded, no

closer to gate than home.

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55: Yasmine, Robin, Mohieddin

Poem 55 from a correspondence in translations of Ibn Arabi’s Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, between Yasmine Seale and Robin Moger. The first two translations are made independently and each subsequent rendering written after the other’s previous version has been sent and seen.

Khusraw discovers Shirin bathing in a pool from a 16th-century Khamsa by Nizami. Source: Wikipedia


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Y(i)

 

Distance, and desire ruins me. To meet

is no relief. Come or go, desire hardly cares.

 

Meeting him, unreckoned

things happen. In place of healing,

another ache of longing.

 

Because to meet him is to see

a person whose beauty grows

ever more abundant, proud.

 

All I can do is match my love’s ascent

To his loveliness on its measured scale.

 

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The Brimming Sea: More Ibn Arabi from Robin Moger

The Prophet Ilyas Rescues a Prince, from the Hamzanama, India, 1567-1572. Source: britishmuseum.org

Then the secret was there in my heart

and I was gone and my star set away

my heart by my lord’s secret changed and I

absented from the body’s feeling frame

wherefrom therewith I came

upon a ship of my high resolution

disposed therein my fortress thoughts

through a dark gulf of what I knew

unthought

.

and on my ship my longing blew

as winds, and so it passed

an arrow’s passage through the sea

and across that sea Approach I cut

till I perceived unsecret what

was without name. You!

.

I said, by my heart seen!

I loose an arrow at your love

for you are dear to me

and you are my festivity

the end of all my passion and my prize.

.

Ibn Arabi’s original poem can be found here.

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