The wind gasps with the midday heat, like a nightmare in the late afternoon And on the masts, it continues to fold, to spread for departure The gulf is crowded with them--laborers roaming the seas Barefoot, half-naked And on the sand, by the gulf A stranger sat--a baffled vision wanders the gulf Destroying the pillars of light with the rising wail Higher than the torrents roaring foam, than the clamor A voice thunders in the abyss of my bereaved soul: Iraq Like the crest rising, like a cloud, like tears to the eyes The wind cries to me: Iraq. The wave howls at me: Iraq. Iraq. Nothing but Iraq. The sea is as wide as can be, and you are as distant The sea is between you and me: Oh Iraq. Yesterday, as I passed by the café, I heard you Iraq . . . You were a spin of a record This, the spin of the cosmos in my life--it rolls time on for me In two moments of tranquility if it has lost its place It is the face of my mother in darkness And her voice, They glide with the vision until I sleep And it is the palm trees that I fear if they grow dim at sunset Crammed with ghosts snatching every child who doesn't return from the paths, And it is the old woman and what she whispers about Hazam And how the grave split open over him before the beautiful, young Afra And he took hold of her . . . except for a braid Rose red . . . do you remember? The glowing fireplace crowded with palms seeking warmth? And my aunt's whispered tales of bygone kings? And behind a door like a decree That was closed on the women By hands forever obeyed--as they were the hands of men The men would carouse and pass the night in revelry without tiring So, do you remember? Do you remember? Content, we were resigned With those sad stories--as they were the stories of women. A collection of lives and times, we were in its prime We were its two spheres--between which it rested So, isn't that nothing but dust? A dream and a spin of the record? If that were all that remains, where is the consolation? In you Iraq, I loved my spirit or I loved you in it Both of You, the lantern of my spirit, you-- and evening came And the night pressed down--so let both glow in the darkness, so I will not lose my way If you came to me in a foreign land--the encounter would be incomplete Meeting you--Iraq at my hand . . . this, the encounter Longing for it penetrates my blood, as if all of my blood is desire A hunger for it . . . like the hunger of the blood of the drowned for air The desire of the unborn stretching his neck from the darkness to birth I wonder how it is possible for traitors to betray Does one betray his country? If he betrays the meaning of being, how can he be? The sun is more beautiful in my country than any other, and darkness Even darkness--there, is more beautiful for it embraces Iraq What a pity . . . .when will I sleep And sense on the pillow Your summer night--gilded by your perfume, Iraq? Between timid villages and strange cities, my footsteps I sang your beloved soil And I carried it--for I am the Messiah in exile dragging his cross And I heard the footfall of the famished moving, bleeding from faltering And dust, from you and from padded feet--my eyes filled with tears I still walk, disheveled--with soiled feet on the roads Under foreign suns In tattered rags, hands outstretched, calling Pale from fever and disgrace, the disgrace of a strange beggar Amidst foreign eyes Amidst scorn, and rejection, and aversion . . . or pity Death is easier than pity Than the pity foreign eyes squeeze out as Drops of mineral water So be doused, you, Oh drops, Oh blood, . . . oh . . . currency Oh Wind, Oh needles tailoring the sail for me, when will I return To Iraq, when will I return? Oh Flash of the waves staggered by oars--- carrying me to the Gulf Oh great constellation . . . oh currency. If only the ships didn't charge their passengers for traveling? If only the earth like the vast horizon was without seas I am still calculating, oh currency, I count you--I ask for more I am still repelled by you from the intervals of my alienation, I still ignite my window and my door with your glow, On the other shore over there, So tell me, oh currency . . . When will I return, when will I return. Do you see that joyous day approaching before my death? And in the sky, in the fragments of clouds And in the breezes, hailstones saturated with August perfumes I reveal with a cloak, the remainder of my lethargy, like a silk veil Disclosing what is and is not visible, What I have and barely have forgotten, when doubt is within certainty It is clear to me--as I extend my hand to slip on my clothes-- What answer was I searching for in the darkness of my soul That the hidden joy did not fill the abyss of my spirit like fog? Today--as delight floods through me--surprising me--I return What a pity-- I will not return to Iraq And will he who lacks currency return? And how is it saved? And will you eat when you are hungry? And will you spend what Dignity deems generous, on food? So cry for Iraq For what do you have but tears But your futile anticipation, for the winds and the masts.
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