“The Pericardium”, by Norbert Hirschhorn


I was born from a phantom called love.
More nearly a ghost than a body.
In the narrow alley
Between truth and illusion
I chose to be a membrane
Stuck to my lover, the Heart,
To let Him detect the smell of a woman,
To contain his ceaseless fatigue in my lap,
Rinsing Him tenderly in my plentiful bath.

More nearly a specter than a body.

Because I am shapeless
I was depicted on just one page in Gray’s Anatomy,
My lover the others, front and center.
I don’t care.
Left in the margin of that page,
I don’t care.
I’ve remodeled myself to take his shape,
Nourishing him in my vigilance.

More nearly a spirit than a body.

I see no other reason to exist
But to cradle my love.

From the poem in Arabic by Fouad M. Fouad MD in his collection, Parts of Animals (Ajzaa El Haywan), Dar Al Takween, Damascus, 2010; co-translated with Norbert Hirschhorn MD.

Dr. Norbert Hirschhorn is a public health physician, commended by President Bill Clinton as an “American Health Hero,” and proud to follow in the tradition of physician-poets. Dr. Hirschhorn is one of the inventors and developers of the life-saving oral rehydration therapy for people suffering fluid loss from cholera and other infectious diarrheal illnesses. It is estimated that his work has saved around 50 million people suffering from dehydration. After two decades abroad he now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He has published six collections, the most recent a bilingual Arabic-English co-translation with Syrian physician-poet Fouad M. Fouad, Once Upon a Time in Aleppo, of the latter’s poems (Hippocrates Press). See his website, www.bertzpoet.com

Dr. Fouad M. Fouad is a physician and poet from Aleppo. Following the outbreak of the war in Syria, he and his family moved to Lebanon where he is now at the American University of Beirut. Dr Fouad is deeply engaged in research and action on behalf of Syrian refugees. He has published five volumes of poetry in Arabic, the most recent being Once Upon a Time in Aleppo. Several of his poems have appeared in translation in English and French poetry journals.  

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