THE SHORT STORIES OF ZAKARIA TAMER
– how are we going to eat?” I spat on the hunger that choked the clouds of giggling carnations. I will eat two cold breasts torn by my yellow fingernails from the body of a dead girl. The god of my city is bread. My love is beautiful like bread. Submissive, like a man crying. Brighten up, you pale face, you tired morning. A train whistle. Farewell, farewell. The dry colour transforms into a winged, warm rhythm. The world opens its doors to spring. The heavens are green. The earth is green. The mountains are green. The clouds are green. The sea is green. Sadness is green. I am green … grey … black … everything is black. Impatiently, the wound tears off its yellow bandage to receive a crowd of kisses coming from the dead. The clock ticks, grimly announcing midnight. The children’s house is ashes. Take me, autumn, to forests of emaciation and tears. The giant’s lips are bare feet covered with flies. In my lover’s eye, buried in the sands of the desert, I saw carriages loaded with the dead, passing silently. Extinguish the candles in the windows, and don’t wait for my return, O Mother. I can’t escape. The door is locked. O bat of the city, my brother, my flesh is the fire of your knife. Perhaps I could dream of escape.
I heard, in that instant, the neighing of my white horse – he had returned faster than I had anticipated. I will be his friend forever.
A man with a face as wrinkled as the bark of an ancient tree shouted enthusiastically: “People are good. People are good. People are good.”
I wanted to laugh like a madman, but the green prairies that have no horizons were calling me longingly, calling the tired man and his horse.
Somewhere in the world, a moon shone its cold blue light, and the crude rhythm of music poured out. There was a large group of brass trumpets blaring out a wild rattling cry that strained to reach the highest pitch, but silence defeated it, and nothing remained but the trembling sigh of a lone, tiny and delicate violin, while the tired man quietly withdrew from the city riding his white horse.
TRANSLATED BY SPENCER SCOVILLE from the collection Saheel al-Jawad al-Abyad,
(The Neighing of the White Horse), 1960
66 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015