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A Jewel in a Black Autumn

A Window into Contemporary Omani Literature

The following are translations of poems from Zahir Al Ghafri’s collection: “Whenever an Angel Appeared in the Fort”, (Beirut: 2008):

A Jewel in a Black Autumn

She didn't feel the rain

On the edge of her forelock

Nor did she feel the wind

That raised the laughter's ring

A little higher

Like the ring of an angel in the forest.

She'd walk

As if in another life.

She thought only of a chair behind the window

To rest on

And watch a man pass by

A man she can ask

To the bed of her desire

Lit by tears and flowers.

But you who pass by

At this moment

You're the victim

Dreaming of drowsiness and flower.

You who came from distant hills

In the night of despair

With two hands

Longing to swim in fancy's fountain.

You look for a jewel in a black autumn

You're the one chosen by chance

To cross the ordeal

To test the beauty sleeping there

Behind the lofty pillars of fog.

The Blaze of Signs

The desert!

It happens only there!

That's what I said.

It happens only beneath a lonely and lofty tree.

Her face shines

Luminous like a saintly halo

Or a portrait from a mirror that can't be seen.

She talks to herself

As if between us a sea’s yearning

Yet the same agony!

Her talk crawls to the world's edges

On the rhythm of a magic breeze

Like a dream at midnight.

She talks about vice's flowers

In fantasy's wasteland

About the pain that leaves a trace

On doors and windows

About the secret's flash

In the face of a missing angel

About ladders circled by fire.

Is she asleep or are her eyes just closed?

I know not.

Her words flow

With all earth's signals

As if she looked for gold's glitter

In the bed of a mine.

Every sign from her head

Crowns an early and sure loss.

She calls me to her desert

Her ancestors' paradise

Surrounded by creation's lights

But I cannot.

The desert

The woman alone beneath the tree

My dreams

My dreams are enclosed by a blaze of signs.

Where the Light Fell

The one who was never



Light fell

When you knocked the door

That wouldn't open.

In your hand is despair's flower

You who've come from afar

From the mountains whose summits blaze

With travelers' fires

As if at this evening you're the rendezvous of the Resurrection.


Before the doors that won't open

You stand with the rose of death in your hand.

Listen to music

It's coming from your life's garden

From the threshold of hellfire till the last breath.

You're a different man now

For the word is your guide to the wasteland.

Where the light falls

Before doors that won't open

Let yourself be seen

While an angel baffled at the threshold

Carrying sins' rose

For your life is a lock and key

A myth and legend.

O boy

The boy who was

The boy who never was

Do you want more?

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