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“In Cairo: A Birth” a Poem by Egyptian Feminist Writer Mona Helmy

| February 11, 2011

title

Egyptian feminist writer Mona Helmy celebrates a fragile beginning of life in her poem, transliterated by Robin Morgan.

A Birth

After such a long, long labor, so tired, weary, painful,
the scans assured us that this time, this time
the pregnancy was not false.
And hours after the birth
on a Tuesday, on 25 January 2011,
was born Egypt,
was born millions
of people, millions
of new men, new women.

Yet some remain still drifting, numb, lifeless,
unconscious, unknowing, stillborn,
—orphan detainees blindly loyal
to the old agenda, the party, the sterile pharaoh
who still looms in stone.

Still, Egypt, alive now though fragile,
alive now though now banned,
alive now though forbidden,
drew that first ragged breath burning
into its lungs, and Egypt
let loose that first raw cry so wild and free
the strongest rock began to fracture at the sound,
crumble, and then melt,
as if ancient stone statues of the kings were
filmy sheets of wax, melting, pooling,
vanishing in the desert air.

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