When Miriam Emerges from Ecstasy

Joyce Mansour
translated by
C. Francis Fisher

I’m back

Harvest is over

The yellow ears of morning

Stand against the door

Irritating problems

Of patina

No more picking olives

On the hills of adultery

No more passive pleasures

I can’t fight narcosis

Asleep like mud in enclosed gardens

My sex gleams with a great bitter thirst

The exquisite yawn of death

Why do I know sadness without understanding it

Without the medlar pit swollen with rustic blood

To be held like a widow’s last

Between my fingers drenched in light

How to satisfy my craze for freshness

No passion

No old punishment

That does not wear vice’s uniform

I fall to the ground with great sealike movements

And swirls of cobblestones with the sound

Of drums

I fall and I rise and the surface of the city

Cannot be far from misery and time

I came back too soon

O son of my maternal flame


Joyce Mansour (1928–1986) was born in England to Jewish-Egyptian parents, grew up in Cairo, and settled in Paris in the 1950s. She published sixteen books of poetry in her lifetime and is considered one of the most important female Surrealist writers.
C. Francis Fisher is a writer and translator. Her first book of translations, In the Glittering Maw: Selected Poems of Joyce Mansour, is forthcoming in May 2024.
Originally published:
March 4, 2024


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