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from the August 2005 issue

Ode of Sorrow


The blue of depth is sadness

and the depth of  blue-sadness

and a star quivering tears in this space-

Language at the peak of clarity

unfurls the night . . .

Indeed, the moment is wounded by a dream		

to finish the questioning, and departs		

		burdened by the prophets

and the neighing of memories to come.

	*	*	*

The blue of depth is sadness

and the depth of blue-sadness.

and we are nothing but it.

Are we in its mirror,

		or is it in ours?

It's all the same . . .

The silence of my woman is salt on 

	my voice, bearing the meaning

of the wound, and the name of the river,

but her hands are my two shores.

	Her silence is the foot of a turquoise mountain-

How my voice assassinates me at night in its			

	 direction to prayer and recants a martyr		

to witness what I don't see!

	Twilight of rose

that forgetfulness wounds-this sadness

my mother is its mother . . . wind at the last flute

spelling the river so we can run-

its willow the child flowing after us

	like an echo of the call to prayer.

Oh, mother, I said:

   who between us is sadder

	you . . . or the river . . . or the lightning

	between my hands?

She whispered to me

folding me upon		

		a moist eyelash:

-After us comes the dove 

-After us?

My voice colored her,				

holding the moon back from its time,

two skies bent over in the palms of her hands,

and she urged: Oh, my son,

Sadness began its

	first names with us and overflowed  

since the desert-

		Sand hangs loosely over the memory

and a memory hangs the black

over the humble white

and the white over the widespread black

to watch over embers by the ashes

since trees inscribed poetry and life

in the land's copy book-	 

Indeed, from exile to exile-

in between which commentaries on the country have grown longer

since the blood of an East split

	to present us Damascus.

And so we summarize the wheat and the wisdom.

Two lines slowly

	we repeat creation from the beginning,

not to sleep.

	*	*	*

		Which spirit

flutters this night in the sails of

the infinite, or over its masts?

The sand grouse has passed into thought

God passes in sadness,

		a distant woman passes, 

silence and meaning pass,

	and a sail already passed  announcing

the journey on a rainy day,

Oh, this soil . . .

	who reckons my thoughts?

My daughter's two eyes echo the

trilling cries of joy at evening.

And a sash of the recitation of clouds-

she can awaken vision 

and tears in the eyes of the blind.

		She lowers eyelashes more savory 

than slumber stealing the bird

between its wings,

and a heart from the hands of my mother,

and  shackles from my hands

and she considered the intention of a dream

the sadness smiling a little

as she saw a mother's downfall

	the past following in its wake-

a father-torn down more than ruins

	This-his night confounds 

	the stars-six gallows

	from which a tree,

		horses, and odes dangle-

Oh, this soil-who but you

begins other than at the end!

Captivity is this which

your spirit conceals . . . and the spring

the lover bathes in . . .

And the distant Iraqi voice

is captured by the shadow pouring forth

torrential sweetness-

This is what the likely captive said-

He saw me casting lots and went on:

-Has the hand of sadness

			knocked at your door?

				He loosened the binding ties 

from memory that shone like silver:

This is my woman, my sorrow-

How often does she come?

How often do I go to it?

Its night is the lightning that awakens

the secrets of prophecies and recites

		      them like rain-

it was in the beginning and we were it . . .

So name it, then, the playing of music,

	and name me string.

I said, you are still on the bank

and the river is flowing.

Be with the river and see the sadness

as god sees it.

	His mother is distant behind the balconies

Like a tree discovering the wind

	and digging deep into the soul's soil.

Its cup forgiveness, as far as it goes,

	and the flood, insofar as it can, 

and poetry its echo.										

Its cup is the rain of the inside,		

until sinner and saint are equal

in this attire

and the volcano offers him a toast 

for the final escape


Tadmor Prison, 1992

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