Joumana Haddad

1970 / Lebanon

I Don'T Remember

I don't remember
that I undressed in daylight
for a man
whose eyes are closed.

I don't remember
that I ran like saliva
and he was an unattainable desire,
that I was ravenous with hunger
and he was an impossible bed,
that I was the conqueror
and he a resilient city.

I don't remember, don't remember
that I conquered a man like a storm
and he was the open windows that faced my weakness,
that I pounced on him like a fever
and his hallucinations swallowed my tongue.

I knew men's bodies as travel
and my body as arrival and easy farewell.

I knew that men's hearts are pairs of hands,
and knew my heart was a promise of asphyxiation
that remains false even when it wins.

I knew that men's arrival was a gentle flood
and their departure a temporary ruin.
I knew how to forget them even as they stormed the dust of memory.

I had never known a man
whose heart professed rupture like a foretold catastrophe.

I never knew a man
who could turn me
from an Eve into woman.

Translated by Khaled Mattawa