Where did he go?
Instead of house slippers, I stuffed my feet into your heavy shoes (and they really were yours). Then I stalked through Noah’s boat in search of him. The kitchen was clean, the ashtray evidence of a smoker’s hysteria, the door to the balcony wide open, and a breeze rustled pages on the floor. When did he leave? How did I fall asleep with my guest still sitting across from me on the sofa? How did his shoes get into my room and how could he have left for the big city in bare feet? When I couldn’t find my father’s black shoes in their usual place, I felt lost. Then I woke.
Reread Freud, X said. M said, He stole the father’s authority and left you a few clues about where he went. N said, Maybe he stole the desire for the father and left you his authority in the form of shoes too big for you to fill.
Iman Mersal is an Egyptian poet and Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Alberta. She is the author of five books of Arabic poetry and an essay collection, How to Mend: Motherhood and Its Ghosts.
Robyn Creswell is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale and author of City of Beginnings: Poetic Modernism in Beirut. His recent translations include Abdelfattah Kilito’s The Tongue of Adam and Sonallah Ibrahim’s That Smell and Notes from Prison.
Image: “Ashtray” by fwalloe. CC BY 2.0.