The following are translations of poems by the Omani poet Abdullah al Balushi (1967) from his collection titled: “Crossing Solitude’s Bar” (Muscat 1994).
To Al Hallaj
(1) In the grandeur of the dawn
Tranquillity begot you
While the night was bathing
In virgin water.
(2) Don’t shed my blood
Don’t blend it with your faults’ ashes.
I want to die at night
When the universe resorts to silence.
(3) Clothed with death, the night descends
Here’s your mother
Staring at your crystal soul.
She’ll bemoan you
As she returns from unfinished wars,
The bereaved saints at night
Will cry for you in the ecstasy of absence.
(4) O lamb
Didn’t you feed their dead children?
When the soul slumbered
In its long night
They forgot your bleeding cries
They burned your sacred bread.
(5) Behind you is a thirsty flower
Its sick trunk
You yesterday watered
Behind you the orphan’s hut
And the bird’s cage
Behind you a dawn dying
Behind you a sparrow you nursed yesterday
Behind you the whirl of winter.
(6) Let your town sleep now
Let it sleep in your roaming soul
Let the migrants pass on your love strings
Let the night hymns sleep
Your bewildered town will remain
Like a sore ready to explode.
Solitude is the cradle of fear,
Just like that,
One day the sky will open for me
Like a flower pouring with blood.
I consort with the night
At my mother’s grave
I recite an elegy for the saints
Darkness embraces me.
The rock that broke my head
Should be smashed today.
The air scratches that cloud’s face.
When I strike against the desert
My lip looms hanging on the horizon
The mountains raise me anew
To cling to a moon
Dangling from the head of an orphan tree
In the sea’s face.
Counting the desert as soul’s mother
I measured distance
Like a wandering hermit.
I fell upon a spot that for centuries
Sucked travellers’ tears.
Under an old cover I left my memory
Bitten by rats in the daylight.
Nothing is there in my body save Allah
And remnants of fear.
From a knoll, like a sharp arrow
I plucked my body
Became like a leper
Yet the earth will come anew
She’s but my mother
I’m but a flower rooted
In saints’ gravestones
And blessed by the skies.