A Day

It was a day
That seemed to have fallen from the branch of a star.
I saw the fire grow bigger—
Like a sleeper
Whose eyes are dazzled.
I saw three mendicants
Who became a person with two sticks,
When I touched them.

It was a day
Of rain when he halted halfway across the sky
And swore by a tree
That no child’s head should be dampened.
It was a day
When I saw the sea prowl through the city.
On deciding to return to the water,
He left a wave behind on my balcony.
After I had bathed in it for a year,
We both evaporated.

It was a day
When I apologized to my head,
Which I don’t encounter often,
But to which my friends direct coffee each evening,
Hitting it with a single shot
And then attaching it to my body,
“What a worthless catch!”


Thani al-Suwaidi

Thani al-Suwaidi was born in the United Arab Emirates in 1966. He has published two collections of poetry: Liyajiff Riq al-Bahr (So the Sea’s Foam May Dry Out, (Ittihad Kuttab wa-Udaba’ al-Imarat, 1991), and al-Ashya’ Tamurr (Stuff Happens, Dar al-Intishar al-Arabi, 2000).

His novella, al-Dizil (The Diesel) was published in 1994 by Dar al-Jadid in Beirut, reprinted in Baghdad in 2006, and then published in 2008 by al-Maktab al-Misri lil-Matbu‘at in Cairo.

William Hutchins

William Hutchins, who is based in North Carolina, was educated at Berea, Yale, and the University of Chicago. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for literary translation in 2005-2006 for his translation of The Seven Veils of Seth by the Libyan Tuareg author Ibrahim al-Koni (Garnet Publishing). His translations have appeared on wordswithoutborders.org and in Banipal Magazine of Modern Arabic Literature. His recent and forthcoming translations of Arabic novels include Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street, and Cairo Modern by Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz (Anchor Books), Basrayatha by the Iraqi author Muhammad Khudayyir (Verso), The Last of the Angels (The Free Press) and Cell Block 5 (Arabia Books) by the Iraqi author Fadhil al-Azzawi, Return to Dar al-Basha by the Tunisian author Hassan Nasr (Syracuse), Yusuf's Picture by the Iraqi author Najem Wali (MacAdam/Cage), and Anubis (The American University in Cairo Press) and Puppet (Texas), also by Ibrahim al-Koni.

A Day. Copyright Thani al-Suwaidi, 1994. English translation copyright Banipal: Magazine of Modern Arab Literature, 2009.