Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"I Scandalize Myself" by Iman Mersal

Today's poem on Poetry Daily is "I Scandalize Myself" by Iman Mersal, translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa. The poem is from Mersal's 2008 collection These are not Oranges, My Love published by Sheep Meadow Press.

Mattawa was my thesis workshop teacher at the University of Michigan. He does a lot of translation work and is a mighty fine poet himself.

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 pause in your laugh."

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

(Iman Mersal, translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa, from These are not Oranges, My Love, 2008 Sheep Meadow Press)


Laura said...

I wasn't going to mention it the first time because it's totally lame (ahem) to leave "you made a typo" comments, but you say (twice) that this poem was "translated translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa." So is that the same thing as the difference between, "Does he like me, or does he LIKE me like me?" Or maybe by using the word twice it kind of lessens the meaning? Like, "It's not translated so much as translated translated, so it's quasi-translated." I can't wait to hear the answer.

D'Anne Witkowski said...

Nope. It was just a typo, but it's almost cute to see you thinking so hard about it. Thanks Eagle Eyes.