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The Cat Cow

By Ahlam Bsharat

Translated by Andrew Leber

I want to hug the cat named Cow, who survived the war
Squeeze her so hard in my arms
That her spots rub off on me
That I become like her
Or simply become her
The cat Cow
*
I want to hug the ruined balcony, some of which, not all of which, survived the war
*
And tell her:
My heart’s balcony is with you, Balcony
My railing hugging yours
My washing hugging yours
My hoe stored in the corner hugging yours
My view hugging yours
Hugging every last thing in sight
Every atom of air
Every flight of birds
*
I don’t want to hug my friends,
the survivors of the war
Afraid they’ll fall from my hands
Afraid they’ll melt at my heat
Afraid I’ll kill them with my hug
Even where the war did not


Andrew Leber is a translator and researcher who has translated numerous works of Palestinian and Syrian writers. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewMLeber.

  • Ahlam Bsharat is a Palestinian writer who grew up in a village in northern Palestine and obtained a master’s degree in literature from An-Najah National University in Nablus. She has authored poetry, picture books, short stories, novels, and memoirs, as well as a number of television and radio scripts (in Arabic), winning numerous awards and recommendations for her work. Her poem “I Saw a Dead Road on the Road” has been posted recently by ArabLit Quarterly at https://arablit.org/2021/05/20/new-poetry-by-ahlam-bsharat-i-saw-a-dead-road-on-the-road/. For more information, please visit https://www.palestinewrites.org/participants-1/ahlam-bsharat. You can follow Ahlam on Twitter @ahlambsharaa

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