Nizar Qabbani: “Attempt to Assassinate a Love Affair”

Attempt to Assassinate a Love Affair

We made a plan,
before we cut the thread:
We would remain friends,
no more than friends.
We were excited.
We agreed.
We said it again:
Let us remain wise.
We charted the course
of our own oblivion.
We conspired to kill the sky.
We met in secret.


And then, suddenly,
we met in summer.
We broke everything.
We destroyed it all
in a matter of moments,
just as we had planned.
We set siege to our layouts.
Smoke filled up the air.
We cried we apologized.
We drowned we floated
like fish lying trembling
at the bottom of a pond.


We clung to each other
like thread to a needle.
We forgot we were friends,
no more than friends.
We lay down our swords
upon the earth.
We sacrificed we slaughtered.
We grew hardened with longing.
We made love,
again and again.
We howled like beasts.
We bled like prey.
We felt ashamed.
We rained we raged.
We sinned.
We ran.


In the prairies of love,
you and I became free.
We became two horses
galloping in the sun.
We entered the sun
and opened her body.
We wounded and were wounded.
We knew sex in the sweetest moments
and in the harshest moments too.
We pressed our bodies together.
We peeled them apart.
We exchanged our skins.
We talked a little
then fell silent.


We leapt across History.
We saw millions signs:
from the kings of the Umayyads
to the Mamluk Ages
to the dances of dervishes.
We learned of Abu Zayd Hillali.
and of Layla and Majnun.
We sang in our mother tongue.
We invented a new language.
We spoke in broken sentences
devoid of any meaning.
We cast them all aside.
We wore masks of wax
and debated with the wise.
We were baptized in the waters
of sex and of love.
We were purified
and returned home, innocent.


And we forgot to notice
when the summer came again.
And we forgot the things we said
in the days of winter.

And we became friends,
no more than friends.

Nizar Qabbani

Translated from Arabic by Paul Weinfield, © 2017

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