martes, 16 de abril de 2013

IMAN MERSAL [9631]




IMAN MERSAL nació en Mit 'Adlan, un pueblo del delta de Nilo, en Egipto, en 1966, y está considerada como una de las autoras más representativas de las nuevas generaciones de la poesía árabe. Fue cofundadora y editora del periódico feminista egipcio Bint al-Ard ('Hija de la tierra'), que se publicó entre 1986 y 1992. Cuando terminó los estudios de literatura en las universidades de Mansura y El Cairo, emigró: primero a Boston (EE. UU.) y luego a Edmonton (Canadá), donde en la actualidad reside; trabaja como profesora de literatura árabe en la universidad de Alberta.
Como poeta, ha publicado los libros Ittisafat ('Caracterizaciones'), Mamarr mu'tim yasluh lita'allum al-raqs ('Oscuro pasaje que permite aprender a bailar'), Al-mashy atwal waqt mumkin ('Caminar cuanto sea posible') y Yugrafiya badila ('Geografía alternativa'). Una antología de poemas suyos traducidos al inglés por el también poeta Khaled Mattawa se recoge en These are not oranges, my love: selected poems ('Esto no son naranjas, mi amor: selección de poemas'). 
Los críticos suelen adscribir a esta autora a la que llaman Generación de los 90. Se trata de un movimiento literario integrado por jóvenes poetas cuya intención era distanciarse de la cuidada retórica y el carácter marcadamente ideológico de los autores de la generación de sus padres.  Con esta intención, giran la mirada hacia la vida cotidiana y la experiencia personal, que reflejaban con una lengua sencilla y hasta descuidada y un interés por el detalle y lo aparentemente anodino. El poema en prosa, como este que presentamos, fue una de las innovaciones formales más destacadas de este grupo, que lo introdujo en la poesía en árabe. Pese a ello, la escritura de Mersal no elude el desafío a los discursos del poder y la investigación en las contradicciones y las tensiones de nuestro tiempo, sobre todo a través de la exploración (a menudo irónica y en absoluto autocomplaciente) de los mecanismos con los que construimos la identidad.






Poemas en prosa de Iman Mersal

Traducción del árabe: Frank Báez, con la colaboración de la autora



UNA CELEBRACIÓN 

El hilo de la historia cayó al piso, así que me agaché para buscarlo. Era una de esas festividades patrióticas, y lo único que alcanzaba a ver eran zapatos importados y botas militares.

Una vez, sentada en el tren, una afgana quien nunca había estado en Afganistan, me dijo: «La victoria es posible». ¿Es eso una profecía? Le quise preguntar, pero mi persa se limitaba a lo que aprendí en los textos de la escuela, y ella me miró, mientras la escuchaba, como si estuviese buscando en un armario cuyo dueño fue consumido en un incendio.

Supongamos que el pueblo llega en masa a la plaza. Supongamos que el pueblo no es una palabra obscena y que comprendemos el significado de la expresión la masa. Entonces díganme ¿cómo han aparecido todos esos perros de la policía acá? ¿quién los cubrió con las coloreadas máscaras del partido? Y más importante aun, ¿dónde está el hilo que separa las banderas de los paños menores, los himnos de los anatemas, a Dios de sus criaturas - aquellas que pagan impuestos para deambular por la tierra?

Celebración. Como si nunca hubiese pronunciado esa palabra. Como si saliese de un diccionario griego en el que los espartanos victoriosos retornan a sus hogares con sangre persa aun fresca en sus lanzas y sus escudos.

Puede que no haya existido ese tren, ni la profecía, ni la afgana sentada a mi lado por dos horas. En ocasiones, para matar el tiempo, Dios permite que nuestra memoria se descarrile. Lo que puedo decir desde acá abajo, entre los zapatos y las botas militares, es que nunca sabré con certeza quién triunfó sobre quién.







Determinando el punto débil

Naturalmente, a las vigas de hormigón nos les faltaba delicadeza,
y las columnas de las casas viajeras eran en sí la nostalgia.
Agregó que su trabajo consistía en determinar el punto débil;
Para, después, distribuir su peso a los puntos más o menos fuertes;
que los soportes y los apoyos sólo eran obra del amor,
y que, con cariño, eran fijados en el ángulo contrario de las columnas.
Me aseguró también que la restauración era pura cuestión de sexo.
Mi compañero de colegio, ahora arquitecto del servicio de Arqueología;
por un minuto quedó perplejo
porque yo seguía teniendo la mano de una colegiala.
Antes de marcharse me comentó
que él no pudo especializarse en la comprensión de las caídas,
por mí.















Poems


Iman Mersal

Translated from the Arabic by
Khaled Mattawa




I HAVE A MUSICAL NAME

Maybe the window I sat by
foretold an unusual glory.
I wrote on my notebooks:
Iman…
A student at: The Iman Mersal Elementary School.
Neither the teacher’s stick 
nor the laughs that leapt from the back desks
could make me give up on the matter.

I thought of naming our street after me
but only if the houses on it were widened 
and secret rooms were built
for my girlfriends to smoke in their beds
without their older brothers catching them.

Maybe the doors can be painted orange
as an expression of joy.
Small holes can be drilled through them 
to allow anyone to spy on the large families.
Maybe then no one will be lonely on our street.

“Pioneering experiments
are shaped by great minds,”
this is how passersby might describe me
as they stroll the white sidewalks
of a street bearing my name.
But because of an old animosity between us—
its stones had left marks on my knees—
I decided that my old street isn’t worth it.

I don’t remember when I discovered that I have
a musical name suitable for autographing 
metered poems and for flying
before the faces of friends who have ordinary names
and who do not understand the significance 
of being granted a dubious name
that raises suspicions about you
and that makes you want to become someone else
so that new acquaintances might ask:
Are you Christian?
or
Do you have Lebanese roots?

Unfortunately, something happened. 
When someone now calls out my name
I get confused and look around me.
Is it possible for a body like mine
and a chest whose breathing is getting raspier
with each day to have such a name?
I look at myself often
crossing from the bedroom to the bathroom
where I do not have a whale’s stomach
to get rid of what I can’t digest.







THINGS ELUDE ME

One day I will pass in front of the house 
that was mine for years
and try not to measure how far it is from my friends’ homes.

The plump widow whose cries for love woke me
is not my neighbor any more.

I’ll invent things so not to get confused.
Count my steps
or bite my lower lip savoring the slight pain
or keep my fingers busy with tearing a whole packet
of paper tissues.

I will not try short cuts
to avoid the pain.
I will not stop myself from loitering 
as I train my teeth to chew on hate
that leaps from within.
And to forgive
the cold hands that pushed me toward it,
I will remember
that I did not smudge the bathroom’s whiteness
with my own darkness.

No doubt, things elude me.
The wall itself did not enter my dreams.
I did not imagine a color paint 
to match the scene’s tragic lighting.

This house was my home for years.
It wasn’t a student hostel
where I would leave an evening gown
on a nail behind the door
or paste old pictures with temporary glue.
The romantic sentences 
I extracted from Love in the Time of Cholera
must be jumbled up now
making an altogether comic text.






IT SEEMS I INHERIT THE DEAD

After I returned with the grown-up strides
from burying my mother,
leaving her to raise her hens in an ‘mysterious’ place,
I had to protect the house from the neighbors’ spying.
I got used to sitting on the doorstep
waiting for the heroine of the radio soap opera
who was always persecuted.
And on the day my friend got a visa
to test her body on another continent—
though she did not as usual forget
her cigarettes on my table—
I became certain that smoking is a necessity.
I began to have a private drawer
and a secret man
who used to be her old lover.

Also,
when the doctors fail to find a kidney
that Osama’s body will not reject—
Osama
whose kidneys frayed
because he repressed his bitterness to appear elegant—
maybe I’ll start using his firmly raised thumb to assert my presence
in conversation…

It seems I inherit the dead.
One day
after the death of all those I love,
I will sit alone in a café
without any sense of loss,
because my body is a huge basket
where all those who leave
drop things 
that bear their traces.








AMINA

You order beer by phone
with the confidence of a woman who knows three languages
and who weaves words into unexpected contexts.

How did you find this sense of security
as if you’d never left your father’s house?
Why does your presence provoke this destructiveness
that is completely free of intent,
this gravity
that releases my senses from their darkness?
What else should I do
when a shared hotel room offers me
a perfect friend
except to lump my unrefined manners and fling them
at her face as a crudeness I have contrived?

Go ahead, amuse yourself.
I am fair.
I’ll let you have more than half the room’s oxygen
on the condition that you see me beyond comparisons,
you who are twenty years older than my mother.
You wear bright colors
and will never grow old.

My perfect friend,
why don’t you leave now.
Perhaps I’ll open the gray wardrobes
and try on your stylish things.

Why don’t you go
and leave me all the room’s oxygen.
The void of your absence may lead me
to bite my lip in despair
as I look at your toothbrush,
familiar… and wet.







WORTHY OF MY FRIENDSHIP

Rumor mongers
for reasons of self-esteem,
lovers of bango and psychoanalysis,
agitators against the state,
theoreticians of infidelity,
those who search among their ancestors’ names
for memorable titles,
reformers from within,
honest as garbage,
pessimistic from a distance,
and kind because there is no alternative:

Those who resemble me
and are worthy of my friendship,
those whom you create for me
are plentiful this year.
Dear God,
take away your gifts,
and don’t break your promise
about new enemies.







I SCANDALIZE MYSELF

I must tell my father
that the only man for whom “desire shattered me”
looked exactly like him,

and tell my friends
that I have different pictures of myself,
all true, all me,
that I will distribute among them one at a time.

I must tell my lover,
“Be grateful for my infidelities.
Without them
I wouldn’t have waited all this time
to discover the exceptional void in your laugh.”

As for me
I am almost certain
that I scandalize myself
to hide behind it.







RESPECTING MARX

Facing bright storefronts
flourishing with panties
I cannot stop myself 
from thinking of Marx.

Respecting Marx
is the only thing all those who loved me shared
and I have allowed them all, in varying degrees,
to claw at the cotton dolls
hidden in my body.

Marx,
Karl Marx,
I will never forgive him.








SOLITUDE EXERCISES

He sleeps in the next room, a wall between us.
I do not mean any symbols by this,
only there is a wall between us.
I can fill it with pictures of my lover
smoking or thinking.
But I must find a neutral place for them,
respecting the distance between us.

It seems God does not love me.
I am old enough to believe that
God has not loved me for a long time, not since
he loved the math teacher
and gave him sharp eyesight
and colored chalks
and many chances to torture a girl like me
who cannot divine the link
between two unattached numbers.

But it’s not important that God love me.
No one in this world, not even the righteous ones,
can prove that God loves him.

I can open the door and shut it 
softly so my lover does not wake.
A girl who goes out to the street
without a place to shelter her
is not dramatic at all.

When Dostoevsky said,
“One must have a home to go to,”
he was talking about classical people
who wore long sideburns
and overcoats resembling loneliness.

I do not like melodrama
and find no reason to empty a flower of its joy
to match it to a loved one who had died.

If I leave now
I will grab the hand of the first person I meet
and force him to go with me to a side street café.
I will tell him that a man sleeps in the next room
without nightmares,
that his head was not level with my body
and he never became
a garbage pail for me, not even once—he let everything
scatter out into the street. 
I will tell this stranger that I am an orphan,
and that I used to think that was enough to write good poems,
which proved untrue,
and that I did not take good care of myself
so much that a small inflammation in my sinuses
is about to become a tumor. 
Yet I continue to lie—one of course 
is supposed to be angelic for a little while
before dying to make it easy for his friends 
to find good things to say about him—aware 
that if he leaves me, my death will be easier 
than moving my right foot.

At a side street café
I will tell a man I don’t know many things all at once,
and I will press my vocal cords
on his old wish to be useful.
Maybe he will take me to his house and wake his wife.
I will watch her step toward me as she 
tramples a filthy rug like a tractor and as I feign 
shyness to comfort her and make her feel satisfied
with her husband while he advises me to start over
and as I promise him to learn to play a musical instrument that matches my 
small frame 
and that we meet again during the national holidays.

I threatened all who loved me with my death 
if I ever lose them.
Yet I do not think I will die for anyone’s sake.
Surely, suicides must have trusted life more 
than they should have, and must have thought 
it was waiting for them somewhere else.

I will not leave here before he dies in front of me.
I will place my ear to his chest where silence is so clear that 
even a cat 
with the claws of a disappointed woman who tries 
to hysterically topple the pail filled 
with the remains of our evening together (which 
I place at the top of the stairs
to prove to the neighbors that I have a safe family)
will not make me doubt it.

I will hold your fingers
and watch with the precision 
of a surgeon who does not need scalpels to remove 
pustules from a deteriorating body.
I will place them in an ice bowl where there are no tremors…
And I will leave here
clad in loss, and light.

You must die in front of me.
The death of loved ones is a wonderful opportunity to find alternatives.
On the East Delta train I often pick a suitable 
lady who opens the coffers of her sympathy when I tell her 
my mother died when I was six.

The truth is
it happened when I was seven,
but for me “six” seems to have greater effect.
Middle-aged mothers are addicted to sadness
maybe to justify mourning before it begins.
These touch-ups in the telling
have a magic
that cannot be understood by those
who never needed to steal 
from others.

From: A Dark Alley Suitable for Dance Lesson
1995





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