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POETRY I BY DUNYA MIKHAIL A SECOND LIFE After this life, we need a second life to apply what we learned in the first. We commit one error after another. We need a second life to figure it out. We marry and our hearts beat later. We need a second life to marry the second one. We need time to finish our prison sentences and then live free in the second life. Loaded with experience, we need a second life for understanding. We need time to learn a new language and a second life to practice it and use it well. We write poetry and move on. We need a second life to know what the critics thought of us. Pain requires time to dissipate. We need a second life To learn how live without pain. MISTRESS OF STILL THINGS Now at the hour of your death, let me come to you. I, mistress of still things, let me come to you, now. Here I am: the pennies for which you always labored, the diplomas, the prescription glasses, the crimson stones of your home, the books, the insurance papers, the identification cards, the compass, the leather suitcase, the wooden furniture, the calculator, the notebook, that candle stuttering in the distant corner, the pictures, the pins, and all the other still things come to you now at the hour of your death. Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa Born in Baghdad, DUNYA MIKHAIL has published four collections of poetry in Arabic. She now lives in Michigan. Her English book of poems, The War Works Hard, was published by New Directions. Naomi Shihab Nye JANUARY 25, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25