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This poem is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

Poems and Translations Marilyn Hacker


For Kateb Yacine
(Algerian playwright, novelist, poet and activist, 1929-1989)

A moment jumps the interval; the next
second, a sudden dissonance swells up,
a crack down the smooth surface of the cup,
a dialogue with mistranslated text,
a tense the narrative poses, perplexed,
upon. The dancers and the singer stop,
swirled, each, in shadow like a velvet cape,
potential, and ambiguously sexed.
A gender and a nationality
implicit in the ululation rise
from a long throat to claim or compromise
privilege; responsibility
in texture, in that wound of sound, that vexed
surface, which could detonate, could drop.
...


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