He who takes me will feel my heart beating in his hand

Three poems by Mririda N’Ait Atiq: one from the anthology The Penguin Book of Women Poets, ed. Carol Cosman, Joan Keefe, and Kathleen Weaver (1978, translated from Euloge’s version in French by Daniel Halpern and Paula Paley); one from the anthology Bending the Bow: an anthology of African love poetry, ed. Frank M. Chipasula (2009, translated from Euloge’s version in French by Daniel Halpern and Paula Paley); and one from Women, Gender, and Language in Morocco, by Fatima Sadiqi (2003. Poem translated from Euloge’s version in French by Moha Ennaji).


“God hasn’t made room

My sister, you are a stranger to this place.
Why be surprised that I know nothing?
My eyes have never seen the rose,
My eyes have never seen the orange.
They say there is plenty down there
In the good country
Where people and animals and plants are never cold.
My sister, stranger from the plains,
Don’t laugh at a barefoot girl from the mountains
Who dresses in coarse wool.
In our fields and pastures
God hasn’t made room for the rose,
God hasn’t made room for the orange.
I have never left my village and its nut trees.
I know only the holly and arbutus bush
And the leaves of green basil
That keep the mosquitoes away
When I fall asleep on the terrace
On a warm summer night.”

Source: The Penguin Book of Women Poets, ed. Carol Cosman, Joan Keefe, and Kathleen Weaver (1978, translated from Euloge’s version in French by Daniel Halpern and Paula Paley)


“The Brooch

Grandmother, grandmother,
Since he left I think only of him
And I see him everywhere
He gave me a fine silver brooch
And when I adjust my haїk on my shoulders,
When I hook its flap over my breasts,
When I take it off at night to sleep,
It’s not the brooch I see, but him!

My granddaughter, throw away the brooch.
You will forget him and your suffering will be over.

Grandmother, it’s over a month since I threw it away,
But it cut deeply into my hand.
I can’t take my eyes off the red scar:
When I wash, when I spin, when I drink—
And my thoughts still are of him!

My granddaughter, may Allah heal your pain!
The scar is not on your hand, but in your heart.”

Source: Bending the Bow: an anthology of African love poetry, ed. Frank M. Chipasula (2009, translated from Euloge’s version in French by Daniel Halpern and Paula Paley)


“Mririda

People called me Mririda, Mririda,
Mririda, the gaile rennet of meadows…
With eyes of gold…
But the rennet’s white chest I do not have
Nor do I have her green tunic.
Yet, like her, I have my ‘zrarit’, my ‘zrarit’
Which reach the sheep-folds
My ‘zrarit’, my ‘zrarit’
Of which people talk in the entire valley
And even on the other sides of the mountains.
My “zrarit” which marvel, which arouse desire…
Because ever since my first steps in the fields,
I slowly took the agile rennet in my hands,
And long pressed her white chest onto mine,
And then onto my maiden lips.
That is how the rennet gave me the marvelous virtue
Of the baraka which makes her sing
A song so clear, so vibrant, so pure
In the Summer nights bathed by the moon,
A song like crystal,
Like the clear noise of an anvil
In the resonant air that precedes rain…
And thanks to the gift that Mririda gave me
They call me: Mririda, Mririda…
He who takes me will feel
My heart beating in his hand
As I often felt under my fingers
The crazy heart-beats of the rennet.
In the nights bathed by the moon
He will call me Mririda, Mririda,
The soft nickname that is so dear to me
For him I will release my sharp ‘zrarit’,
My strident, prolonged ‘zrarit’,
That men admire and women envy,
And such that the valley has never witnessed…”

Source: Women, Gender, and Language in Morocco, by Fatima Sadiqi (2003. Poem translated from Euloge’s version in French by Moha Ennaji).


This post is a contribution to the project Invisible Cities, hosted by Yamini (shakespeareandspice);  Nicole (nicole is here to learn); Natalie (Curious Reader); Stephanie (time to read!); Michael (Knowledge Lost); Wil (MyBookishEmpire); and Agnese (Beyond the Epilogue)


Najia Mehadji, Volute 6, 2012

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