I Have A Musical Name

Maybe the window I sat by
foretold an unusual glory.
I wrote on my notebooks:
Iman…
A student at: The Iman Mersal Elementary School.
Neither the teacher's stick
nor the laughs that leapt from the back desks
could make me give up on the matter.

I thought of naming our street after me
but only if the houses on it were widened
and secret rooms were built
for my girlfriends to smoke in their beds
without their older brothers catching them.

Maybe the doors can be painted orange
as an expression of joy.
Small holes can be drilled through them
to allow anyone to spy on the large families.
Maybe then no one will be lonely on our street.

"Pioneering experiments
are shaped by great minds,"
this is how passersby might describe me
as they stroll the white sidewalks
of a street bearing my name.
But because of an old animosity between us—
its stones had left marks on my knees—
I decided that my old street isn't worth it.

I don't remember when I discovered that I have
a musical name suitable for autographing
metered poems and for flying
before the faces of friends who have ordinary names
and who do not understand the significance
of being granted a dubious name
that raises suspicions about you
and that makes you want to become someone else
so that new acquaintances might ask:
Are you Christian?
or
Do you have Lebanese roots?

Unfortunately, something happened.
When someone now calls out my name
I get confused and look around me.
Is it possible for a body like mine
and a chest whose breathing is getting raspier
with each day to have such a name?
I look at myself often
crossing from the bedroom to the bathroom
where I do not have a whale's stomach
to get rid of what I can't digest.

Translated from the Arabic by
Khaled Mattawa

by Iman Mersal

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