The Translator’s Soliloquy
A translation of a poem by Ahmed Shafie, حديث المترجم لنفسه
Nothing asked of you this instant
but this sentence.
The next instant
the next sentence.
You pull a farflung carpet
on whose farthest edge
a fragile cut-glass cup
full to the brim with wine.
It must not reach you empty
but it will not reach you full.
What matters is that it does not break.
Few in this world can play this game.
There is no prize at the end. You know this.
The prize is from beginning to end.
The prize is in every line.
The prize in the hours then hours
when you are not yourself
were there not in this
your care for the cup