City of the dead
On clotheslines stretched between the tombstones
a woman hangs out her freshly laundered linen.
Her arms are raised as if in mute lament
to peg up a pair of panties or a T-shirt.
Petticoats and bed sheets dance among the graves.
Around stand mausolea, with people living in them:
the lodgers of the dead and sentries of their repose.
A non-stop patter of children
playing soccer, with tombs as their goalposts.
A mother calls them to dinner, and her voice
mixes with the praying carried on in the chapel.
Sunlight. Dust of the desert. The clothes dry quickly,
wafting the dregs of moisture onto the graveyard earth,
In the doorways of mausolea neighbors sit at tea,
spending their afternoons in the meager shade of tombs,
tethered to them just like the washing lines.
© translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones