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Abdellatif Laâbi

from 'Little Things'



Garden conforming to childhood
Its mineral trees
Its fossil fruits
The wound where the spring disappears

Because he was small
the world was big
Rumour flowed
through the fountains

Dawn a song
dusk a litany
Midday burned his fingers
around the table



The face was in
its soft-authoritarian place
and when its mouth opened
God spoke humbly

Today’s tears
are crafty by comparison

From bread
there wasn’t a crumb too much



Water rests
in the jar
like pearls in a safe

Questions germinate in silence
and feed on it

That child is no more
Perhaps at the moment of goodbye
he will come back
to hum a shared lullaby
to the dying



Death is watchful
as is life

The friend
who we deserted
has just become
as old as the world

What is more concrete
than death?
What is more abstract?



Copyright © Abdellatif Laâbi, 2013

Translation copyright © Alan Baker, 2013