[He told stories the way you peel a fruit]

by Venus Khoury-Ghata

He told stories the way you peel a fruit
his tale unrolled in no time like an orange peel

Even his silences were recorded
The public scribe took them down in wobbly lines borrowed from the blind

The ears of his audience being all the same size
they sorted out the true from the false
hung the former from their ceiling alongside garlic braids
and threw the rest to dogs and beggars

Women who listened to him filled their jugs with his speech
and spilled it out in their beds wavering in the lamplight
certain that he’d speak for as long a time as they slept

Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker.

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