The Future and the Ancestor

The dead’s right grain
ls woven in our flesh
within the channels of the blood
Sometimes we bend
beneath the fullness of ancestors.

But the present that shatters walls,
banishes boundaries
and invents the road to come,
rings on.

Right in the center of our lives
liberty shines,
begets our race
and sows the salt of words.

Let the memory of blood
be vigilant but never void the day.
Let us precede ourselves
across new thresholds.

Andrée Chedid


I am a woman…
I am from the faraway ruins in the east
A woman who from the beginning
With bare feet
Has experienced the unquenched thirst of the land
Searching for a drop of water
A woman who from the beginning
With bare feet
Along with her skinny cow in the threshing field
From dawn to dusk
Has felt the weight of pain…

I am a woman
A worker whose hands
Turn the great machines of the factory
Which each day tear to bits my strength
In the threads of the wheels
In front of my eyes…

I am a woman with hands full of wounds
From the cutting blades of pain
A woman whose body has been broken
under your unlimited shameless
Backbreaking work
A woman whose skin is the mirror of the sun of the desert
And whose hair smelis of factory smoke…

I am a woman
A woman for whom
In your shameful vocabulary
There is no word
Corresponding to my significance.

Marzieh Ahmadi Ooskwi

Insignificant Woman

When she closed her eyes
No face faded, no lips quivered
Doors heard no retelling of her death
No curtain was lifted to air the room of grief
No eyes followed her coffin
to the end of the road
Only a memory of a lifeless form passing in some lane.

The word echoed in alleyways
Hushed sounds, finding no shelter,
Settled in a secluded den.
A moon mourned
In silence.

Night, unconcerned, gave way to morning
Daylight crept in with the milk cart
and a call to fasting
A meager cat mewing
Amidst the shrill of vendor’s cries
Boys squabbling
throwing stones.
Muddy waters spilling
along the gutters
As the wind carried foul smells
To rooftops.

Nazik al-Mala’ika

How to cite this article:

Andrée Chedid, Marzieh Ahmadi Ooskwi, Nazik al-Mala’ika "Poems for the Women of Egypt," Middle East Report 82 (November/December 1979).

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