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The Curfew

By Radhia Chehaibi

حظر التجول

كعادتي وحيدة
والمدينة وحيدة على غير عادتها
أراقب قفرها من نافذتي
لاشيء غير الليل وحظر التجول
شجرة الشارع الطويل
تسأل عن عاشقين ما تخلفا منذ حب
يسأل عن قبلة كم سترها بالظلمة
الحانة مغلقة والخمر يسكر بنفسه
وخانة في الطريق تحتفي
بوقع أقدام لم تأت
حظر التجول وحده يتجول
وكل هذا الليل مملكة للريح
ما مصير الأدعية
والخطاوى المؤجلة
والمواعيد التي تنتظر
كي يأذن لنا حظر التجول
ما كل هذا التحول في المدينة؟
أين أعراس المدينة وأضواؤها
أين أجراس الأبواب ومواء القطط
أين المنبهات وكوابح السيارات المجنونة
أين أصوات الصبية
تشق هطول الظلام بالصراخ وضحكات
أين تقتقة الكعب العالي لراقصة عائدة
لعاملة ذاهبة
أين أنا حين أكره وحدتي
والمدينة كانت من حولي حافلة
هي الآن مثلي وحيدة
ملقاة على قارعة الليل
وحظر التجول حذر
تماما مثل نافذتي المرتبكة
مثلي أنا الوحيدة
تماما مثل مدينتي الحذرة
كهذا الهدوء الحذر.. يسير خلسة نحو صباح الحياة


I’m alone as usual
but the city is unusually alone.
I watch over its wilderness out of my window.
Nothing but the night and the curfew.
The one tree of the long street
asks about two lovers that have never missed a date.
The broken lantern asks about a kiss
it has concealed in the dark time and again.
The bar is closed and the wine is drinking by itself
and a pot hole in the road is celebrating
footsteps that did not come.
Only the curfew is wandering alone
and all this night is a kingdom for the wind.
What will become of supplication
and deferred footsteps
and appointments that wait
for the curfew’s permission?
What’s all this change in the city?
Where are the weddings and the city lights?
Where are the door bells and the cats’ meows?
Where are the horns and brakes of crazy cars?
Where are the voices of children
who split the darkness with shouting and laughter?
Where’s the tapping of a dancer’s high heels on her way home
or of a woman heading to work?
Where’s me when I hate my loneliness?
The city that was plentiful around me
is now lonely like me
lying on the side of the night.
The curfew is cautious
just like my confused window
like me the solitary
like the city
this cautious stillness...moving stealthily toward the morning of life.

Added: Wednesday, July 6, 2016  /  Chehaibi‚Äôs poem, as translated from the Arabic by Ali Znaidi, won the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 Translation Contest, sponsored by Split This Rock.

Radhia Chehaibi is a Tunisian poet. She was born on May 29, 1970. Her poetry is characterized by strong imagery and language. She is also known for writing shorter poems or flash poetry. She authored poetry collections, including What Leaked from My Silence, Travel Recitations, and The Digital Path of the Soul. She has also been anthologized in several Arabic and translated anthologies. 

Ali Znaidi (b.1977) lives in Redeyef, Tunisia. He is the author of several chapbooks, including Experimental Ruminations (Fowlpox Press, 2012), Moon’s Cloth Embroidered with Poems (Origami Poems Project, 2012), Bye, Donna Summer! (Fowlpox Press, 2014), Taste of the Edge (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014), and Mathemaku x5 (Spacecraft Press, 2015). For more, visit

Other poems by this author