as in my other language

by Amina Saïd


the secret vowels hide themselves
invisible signs an eye recaptures
I prepare for the loss of a face

the eye is a star in a black sky

a tear of light traces its furrow
in the brightening that will be day
bodies’ blades slice into space

we bear the memory of an ancient shore
time’s torch consumes itself
one being sheltered in another seeks its shadow
silence’s perfect speech

I apply myself to make the past
live again in my my left eye
the sunlit right eye
invents a dubious future

I don’t imagine earth without sky
light without the sacrifice of darkness
water without the stones’ thirst
an uninhabited poem a place without a quest

I know the circle’s wholeness and its tension
night and illumination the shadow
and the threshold fire and the symbol of fire
I am a thousand I am one

I begin and I begin myself again
an infinity of metamorphoses
on time’s inexhaustible calendar
I mark a seventh day of you


Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker

Amina Saïd was born in Tunisia in 1953 to a Tunisian father and French mother. She has lived in France since her late teens. She is the author of fifteen collections of poems in French, as well as two books of Tunisian folktales. The Present Tense of the World, a collection of her poems translated and prefaced by Marilyn Hacker, was published by Black Widow Press in 2011.