(Leaves of Autumn’s Many Seasons)
Translated by Salih J Altoma with Doris Jean Lynch*
Leaves snatch the street;
and roam around with it
Leaves snatch the street,
Then rewrite it
Sketching it in color
Here the tree leaves
Ripen like fruits
And scatter by the winds
To swim on horizons that change colors time and again
Each day is filled with many days
And many seasons of fall
Why in autumn do trees stand out
yielding a patina of colors?
Why in this carnival-like season
do trees adorn themselves with glitter
Only to strip naked?
Here leaves are a garment that the street slips off
And slips on
A garment which the wind weaves.
Then rips apart;
A garment for a space that neither exists nor vanishes
Here leaves are a tempest in vain,
Recalling a soul perplexed
Since the beginnings of time
The sun sways furtively
And the trees evade it
Competing in a game of colors
That the leaves perform.
But the sun always loses
It vanishes in spots
And springs like frightened gazelles
Scattering glitters of bewilderment
And tree stumps
I walk, here and there
On this or that street
Across countless streets
As colors chase me
Leaves frolic with me
making a feather of me
Leaves of countless streets
Leaves of fall’s countless seasons.
I walk on this or that street
Here and there crossing streets erased and re-written by leaves
It is said: some forests here are virgin…
Yet, how infinitely have these trees
given birth to leaves! To colors!
I walk on wondering:
Has anyone ever passed here before me?
In cities embraced by trees
Shaped and concealed by trees
Can one have a companion other than trees?
Strolling I accompany the trees
The street walks too
Following us in bewilderment
One of the trees said to me: Come near.
And I did go near
And another one said: Do you know me?
And another extended her arms
But I shied away
Pursuing my paths among trees
If only we had a history written not by us
But by the leaves of trees!
Jawdat Fakhreddine [Fakhr al-Din] (b.1953, Lebanon), a Professor of Arabic literature at the Lebanese University in Beirut, is a major Arab contemporary poet, and author of more than ten collections of poems and literary studies. Fakhreddine’s poetry has been translated into several foreign languages including English. During the academic year 2007-2008 he was a Visiting Professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
Salih J. Altoma is Professor Emeritus of Arabic at Indiana University.
Doris Jean Lynch, an Indiana poet, author and librarian, has published poetry in many literary journals including Shenandoah, Berkeley Poetry Review, Calyx, and Madison Review. A recipient of several individual artist’s fellowships in fiction and poetry categories, Lynch published recently (2008) a chapbook of poems entitled: Praising Invisible Birds.