THEY WILL RISE UP to their own image, in the waters’ slop, beneath the trees; they will witness nothing but their own eyes growing ever wider as they approach the earth, having spiraled downward like rain-drenched butterflies.
So begins another life, one from which the world’s every road branches.
They have glimpsed a morsel of light, and they have said to themselves: perhaps this is what daylight is; but they have never ceased to flounder in their own blood.
Those who follow lines never to come back around,
those who bathe their silhouettes in the azure and extend
their arms ever-outward, beyond their reach, never fully grasping,
travel in circles
and fabricate their own vertiginous state,
a fallen state;
these are the pure objects of our inadequacy.
Our ancestors were masters of solitude. Their lives came to an end at a curve in the road. Bridge-like centuries of man extending from tree to tree, all the way down to us.
My brothers call out for common seasons; thus, as the palm fronds and the windstorms reach their crescendo, murmurs come loose from lips, calling out to you: o you who are lying nude upon the beach, we will outline your down-to-earth loveliness in our seafoam, in every last grain of sand we own.
I have dwelled in the redness of stones intermingling with my plasma; I am the descendent of a forgotten race, but I carry with me what remains of their fire.
Our race will have its day, more vastly arrayed than its ill-fated progenitors. We see it; when the whirlwind of a wing takes our breath away, we see it.
I have imparted myself to impurity, and I have become a cesspool of microbes. O self-consumed self, how might I slow this voraciousness?
I have no desire to live out a cicada’s life, hollowed-out by the heat. I wrap myself in twilight and beckon the dead into my decomposition. I dwell in clay, savoring the sounds of the monsoon that transforms my body into a bee.
Many a holocaust has loomed from the shadows, only to sequester itself again, having propounded its anguish, its destruction.
I am speaking to you, termites in whose ice-wrought bodies the lime kilns of antiquity continue to fire; it is the muteness of the desert that you fear, the desert inside you.
In order to combat infinity, you confine your creations to a worldly scale. You lay waste your own slow death of a life, erecting thrones to your ingenuity, thrones of unworthiness, unaware that those swiftly flowing streams do not coalesce with your mortal endeavors.
I choose not to trespass against childhood (childhood is, to each and every one of us, a touchstone), for this is no longer a matter of reworking a series of misaligned ideas, ideas unruly as water-deprived mules; I can’t remember if I was a maker of collages; I know I was able to outline des natures mortes in the impediments of my tongue. Nevertheless, it was ringing out with the language of some metallic country; never a finger’s. I was two adversaries in one great duel, and if you come to understand me, you who dwell in the belief of your body, you will regret your having done so. And you, tireless prospector, lover of discoveries, stop where you are, curl up in the sun-drenched corpse of your reality, sleep.
No longer do I whisper, no longer do I have a presence. Horror upon they who bear witness to their own inward collapse, the dust of words that serves the living. But perhaps survival goes on in the cosmic flex of the quagmire’s muck, any empty number of ecstasies degenerating into the crispness of sound.
I love so as to remain, the sea’s immobility still dreaming the way, experiencing profundity through phase after phase of putrefaction. And I will have reveled in it, having thus borne it. With a mind more virile than sensual, I wrap my hands around it, it resonates; between the nothingness and myself is a reign and there I am; the splendor of whoever chooses to echo spring’s pathways.
I drive deeper into the geometry of man,
white wasps flit through my fingers;
I hurl myself into the simplest gestures of the earth,
a road rouses me and I take its way upon myself.
Evening was settling in, a sooty haze coming down upon our features; the city was inlaid into our history’s side; my pores were familiar with the caressing impasses; somewhere, the wind was cutting through one of the many regs, whipping the stars into a frenzy. Mine arose in the shape of a goat, in response to having made a mountain of me, and I wear it around my neck to remind myself that I have finally met my match.
The night sinks into my skin, crying out: I am your one true perspiration. My temples can be interpreted; observe the high reliefs that tell the tales of battle: once a portcullis that would impede the river, a richness interposed between our faces, as far as the eye could see.
Another year spewed from midnight like some inexplicable crater, without stirring a single stone. Within the confines of the hour, we writhe like tarantulas, devouring time in our jaws. Once nothing remains but our silhouettes, we will interject each other with questions.
The window was becoming a lethal loophole. One that captivated me, held me in captivity. A group of men were circulating throughout the room. The abstraction of the gold they saw, from afar, was sawing their eyes out.
In the morning, out amongst the thorns and what remained of the fruit, I found a wounded breast. Perhaps the world’s.
The turtledove rouses many a fig tree, the eagle taking off without so much as an adieu to the rock which hoisted it heavenward. While yet another bird haunts the torrent, shouting it down for having allowed its waters to babble on.
The almond tree may be one of the few trees that can, in the silent whiteness one calls springtime, snatch death from the air; it yields the purest music possible to the barren boulder.
Where will my legs break, buckling under the weight of my blind brothers? I would bring before him an offering of death, like the scream of a child on the verge of discovery: a strange phrase.
He had begun by dying; it was the exordium of silence, but unintelligible. He will inherit the earth, will laugh an innocent little laugh.
And of course there will come men who will bear witness to my death. But I will be the only one tearing myself away from my body, as if from a snare; in my wake I will leave the remnant of a wing.
And you: draw your dreams from their collective hands, sail along the river of man and dive and twirl and twist and spring back out. And you, gnash your jaws; and you, pick up the scent; could anything be more absolute?
To each his share, to the worm his own. I will melt away; out of the red snow of my corpse, the grass will grow, the daylight shine! When the beating inside my chest finally collapses into my heart, a new set of eyes will envision this crusade, rolling over the beauty of the sands stretching far and wide.
Fauna driven to deterioration at the alphabet’s bequest, I stand tall at the end of what I am. All the lamps are extinguished, and I enter headlong the cave contiguous with my shadow, a black diamond which the insects hurl their bodies against, rising from summer’s greenest.
Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine was born in 1941 in Tafraout, southern Morocco, of Amazigh heritage. He is especially renowned for his “guerrilla linguistic,” an incendiary, Surrealist-inspired, and iconoclastic writing style. His full length works include Agadir (1967) Corps négatif suivi de Histoire d’un bon dieu (1968), Soleil arachnide (1969), Moi,l’aigre (1970), Le Déterreur (1973), Une odeur de mantèque (1976), and Résurrection des fleurs sauvages (1981), among others. One of the co-founders of the radical socio-political review Souffles/Anfas, he lived in self-exile in France from 1965, returning to Morocco only in 1979. Khaïr-Eddine died in Rabat on November 18, 1995, Independence Day in Morocco.
Jake Syersak is author of the poetry collections Mantic Compost (Trembling Pillow Press, 2020) and Yield Architecture (Burnside Review Books, 2018). He is also the translator of two full-length works by Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine: the hybrid novel Agadir (Diálogos Press, 2020) and the poetry volume Proximal Morocco– (World Poetry Books, forthcoming).