This is a post by our friends at Arabic Literature (in English)

Shaimaa El-Sabbagh, the activist who was shot dead at a rally in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Saturday, 24 January, was also a poet.

 

A Letter in My Purse

Shaimaa El-Sabbagh

trans. Maged Zaher

I am not sure
Truly, she was nothing more than just a purse
But when lost, there was a problem
How to face the world without her
Especially
Because the streets remember us together
The shops know her more than me
Because she is the one who pays
She knows the smell of my sweat and she loves it
She knows the different buses
And has her own relationship with their drivers
She memorizes the ticket price
And always has the exact change
Once I bought a perfume she didn’t like
She spilled all of it and refused to let me use it
By the way
She also loves my family
And she always carried a picture
Of each one she loves

What might she be feeling right now
Maybe scared?
Or disgusted from the sweat of someone she doesn’t know
Annoyed by the new streets?
If she stopped by one of the stores we visited together
Would she like the same items?
Anyway, she has the house keys
And I am waiting for her

 

ShaimaMaged Zaher is a 2013 “Genius” award winner who both writes and translates poetry. His most recent collection is Thank You for the Window Officeand his most recent translation The Tahrir of Poems.