Joumana Haddad

1970 / Lebanon

I Am A Woman

No one can guess
what I say when I am silent,
who I see when I close my eyes,
how I am carried away when I am carried away,
what I search for when I reach out my hands.

Nobody, nobody knows
when I am hungry, when I take a journey,
when I walk and when I am lost.
And nobody knows
that my going is a return
and my return is an abstention,
that my weakness is a mask
and my strength is a mask,
and that what is coming is a tempest.

They think they know
so I let them,
and I happen.

They put me in a cage so that
my freedom may be a gift from them,
and I'd have to thank them and obey.
But I am free before them, after them,
with them, without them.
I am free in my oppression, in my defeat
and my prison is what I want.
The key to the prison may be their tongue.
But their tongue is twisted around my desire's fingers,
and my desire they can never command.

I am a woman.
They think they own my freedom.
So I let them,
and I happen.
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