Al mahmud’s poem ‘As I won’t come back ever’

Al mahmud
Translated by Rifat Munim

As I won’t come back ever, I’m staring down at a spoonful of cream
Scooped out of the layer floating on milk. On the outside a haze of rain
Has laid out over the earth a white sheet woven with dreams.
Why does the heart agitate so much? Because I won’t come back ever?
My hands are shaking yet out of some habit I’m jotting down
Whatever names of people or things I can think of.
At the end of every name I write, I won’t come back.
Birds, I won’t come back.
Rivers, I won’t come back.
Women, I won’t come back.

As I won’t come back ever,
I take the first flag in the procession in my hand.
I organise the men within men.
Why else weave words within words?
I won’t come back, that’s why.
Why keep another chest within the chest?
I won’t come back, that’s why.

Beneath memories is piled up, layer after layer, the opaque water of sadness.
The river that I’ve known so well, it seems,
Is not a river after all; it’s just some flow of water through intimations and signs.
The woman who’s untied her petticoat on being kissed and cuddled wildly
Have I sighted the nudity of her back in full?
Maybe near her thigh there was a sepia mole,
And my fiery tongue didn’t even notice,
Intoxicated as it was with desire!

Today sitting beside my insatiate heart,
On this melancholic kerchief who are you writing
In black letters, “I won’t come back”?
Happiness, I won’t come back.
Sorrow, I won’t come back.
Love, O lust, O my poetry
Are you all just mileposts on the road that no one takes
To come back home?

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