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from the June 2005 issue


Stop, and weep

Not sadness over the corpse of

the remnants of a cursed god

and so not a sadness

over a bird burdened with open space

Don't take me-

Don't leave me-

maybe, my two friends, it's a wasteland without language

maybe you too can postpone the probability of death a little

for my prison cell is my body

and the ode incidental freedom

*	*	*

A palm tree shakes off its pollen

breaking into tears-

Whom have I struck,

if the lightning-herder goes astray?

And who has struck me?

Is he rising?

The earth follows-

is he falling?


surely he is higher than the sky below-

*	*	*

I said this is my vision

and my bleeding attests to it.

The river doesn't bend except

for this wager

but I, when a woman falls heavily

at the end of night, I forget my hands

on her voice, and then she slips away

leaving me my chains,

to write something, finally-

but I, whenever the late birds struggle

the horizon chokes within me

or has the hour's mirage

raised the dust I gargle

Oh, these two . . .

give me back a little space

since my cell is a body I claim

and a freedom that claims me-

Give me back a question

for the answers scattered by the tribes

or that scattered me over them,

no harm in that . . .

Look: the coming day, overflowing, will gather me

teardrop by teardrop, like an ode in its cradle,

and then illuminate me suddenly,

like a verse at its climax,

and bless me with its antithesis.

*	*	*

Oh sister . . . mother . . .

Any lover . . .

If god saw his image

in our embraces, it would be revealed . . .

But he doesn't see-

other than locked doors

and shackles-

And the sky stretches

under the soldiers' boots-

other than a braided sky

its throne is of blood

its law acid-

Does the spirit breathe in

from the trees of Dujeil,

the description and the bombardment making them stagger

until they send back what's been inhaled as blood in Rabat?

That minaret-a stab in the void

That mast-its heel in dirt

that doesn't end in the sky.

This is Golgotha

and blood washes the Nile

of its water,

Barada of its nightmares,

and the Euphrates.

*	*	*

I said this is my vision

and you, too, witness

an ember . . . two embers . . . three

And dawn breaks

its blue doesn't stray

neighing, neighing

running its course

making known the parting of this time-

We're all heading toward what's to come . . .

They've all passed on to what's gone.

So cushion me in the tenderness of my wounds then,

and get up . . .

The child writes in the "sea" meter

at the beginning of his notebook:

And they stand-only a step-

shedding just a tear

as they get up.

Tadmor Prison 1992

For the next poem in this sequence, click here.

Read more from the June 2005 issue
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