A Shroud for All Time

Abdourahman A. Waberi
Translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson

an old saying goes that we live out our daysclad in a shroud thrown over one shoulderno need to be Godto confirm the mystical world of the spirit and angelsheaven and hellthe almond tree in full bloomand all the rare people who speak on behalf of ineffable truthsto us allwe were given the gift to knowthat secrets must exist for mystery’s saketo be born with the passion for truth and beauty bound to the heartto us allthe holy days of eternitylife force entrusted to what can’t be seen

Translator’s Note

The first stanza refers to the Ihram attire worn by Muslims while on pilgrimage to Mecca.

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Abdourahman A. Waberi is a critically acclaimed writer from Djibouti. This translation comes from Naming the Dawn, forthcoming from Seagull Books. He teaches French and Francophone literature at George Washington University.

Nancy Naomi Carlson has authored seven titles, including four translations. She received an NEA grant to translate Abdourahman A. Waberi’s first collection of poems, which was a BTBA finalist. Her 2016 translation of René Char (Tupelo) was a CLMP Firecracker Award finalist.


Number 95 / Winter 2017

Seattle, Washington

Center for Religious Humanism
Seattle Pacific University

Editor in Chief
James K.A. Smith

Poetry Editor
Shane McCrae

Founding Editor
Gregory Wolfe

Image was founded in 1989 to demonstrate the continued vitality and diversity of contemporary art and literature that engage with the religious traditions of Western culture. Now one of the leading literary journals published in English, it is read all over the world—and forms the nexus of a warm and active community.

We believe that the great art that has emerged from these faith traditions is dramatic, not didactic—incarnational, not abstract. And so our focus has been on works of imagination that embody a spiritual struggle, like Jacob wrestling with the angel. In our pages the larger questions of existence intersect with what the poet Albert Goldbarth calls the “greasy doorknobs and salty tearducts” of our everyday lives. Learn more at imagejournal.org

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