Translated from Arabic
The City of Belkhouja*
He dips his hand into the water of the city, clenching his fingers on its colors.
He rolls its sounds and breaths into cigarettes; kneads its smells and tastes into bread; sprinkles the music of its fissures onto his silence; drinks the nectar of its secret wrinkles.
Whenever he wants he rests his head against its domes, its ages; places it came from and others it would reach, peering wide-eyed into its towering depth.
You can't catch water with a fist, they say. And yet, no sooner does he unclench his fist than glowing jewels appear before their very eyes.
Those jewels standing on their own while referring to other things; the thing itself and its mobile architecture, its endless possibilities.
Is it possible that you discovered the way to Maram† before I did? I ask. He smiles pointing at
a word of light and shadow, pulse and distance wherein he strongly blows his painted sentence.
Blow he does, not only in substance but also in imagination, in the flesh of freedom, in space too.
stops the artist looking for himself
in the streets of the city.
The city finds itself
in the streets of the artist.
* A celebrated Tunisia painter.
† Maram is a disguised city living in the poets' fantasy. Perhaps it is a desired city; it may also be an undesirable one.