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from the November 2007 issue

White Birds in a Black Space

He said:
You may walk into the spaces of mildness and obedience
with the rebellious, the dreamers and the scared;
you know that the city has been raped,
that everything is permissible, impossible and chaotic.
You may stand under the sun,
write on its walls with the blood & wisdom
which it has hidden in the memory box.

White birds in a black space.
Black birds in a white space.
He said:
With first light, we travel to water's edge;
escape from the siege of dusty emotions;
sleep on the people's feeble, frightened tree,
embrace our bodies and touch the edge of ecstasy.

The ship hits hard against the water surface;
heartlessly it ruins the waves dance.
On the water, two birds & a gate;
on the water, two stars & a boat;
on the water, two roses & a heart;
on the water, erected dream as sharp as a knife.
He said:
The men who just came from the seashore
are walking on the water
spears in their hands
while my ship is grounded and my seashells are floating.

The butterflies stopped laughing.
They had clay wings
and a permanent seat in the court of fear.

He said:
You know that the sea is large
and time like water seeps between fingers and nothing remains.
You know that from the lemon's scent, a drop fell down,
filled the earth with freshness and early penetration.
You know that forests brought dates
to the lover and to the stones of joyful beaches.
The stones crashed, turned into iron flowers.
Why are you hiding inside rooms of modern cities,
full of futile noise, harvesting young breasts and swallowing saliva for ever.

The clock's organs suspended from a hole in the wall
and the time calmly counts commas and dots
for the new morning.
A knock on the door
And behind the door
morning was standing.
Who wants the morning so early?
He said:
Looking for the stone in the water
and looking for the water in the stone.
It is I, who is optimistic in the time of fall
It is I, who loves the wheat woman
and is not scared of the death of silence.
In the crowd I eat few words
and wink to the women passing by.
I see gazelles crying
and I see happiness committing suicide in the city plaza.
I remember, how my apple turned back, naked
before the moon, and how its fear stepped back
and begged for forgiveness.

Alphabet on the wall
asking the wall to turn into ash
and not reveal the buildings' secrets.
The buildings say as they close their doors:
When the concept is clear, the police disappear.

He said:
I didn't go to the sea this evening.
I was stopped by a wailing stone.
Two stab wounds in its chest
I asked it: Who—?
It answered: You—.

The faces that fell down
from the cloud of life have passed this way,
broken, crying and shadowless.
The wrinkles and the old winters' fat were taken away by the traveling ships.
He said:
I see them planting the seeds of desire,
They were kings, sitting in the cafés of silver.
I see them in the large halls, on the noble marble

The bird that has returned home,
remained dreaming till morning,
released the olive oil traders from jail
and poured the oil.
He said:
Many will pass through these places
but the sand remains the sand.
Oh, young sand, you have become a catastrophe.
Birds of the dear country build their nests in you;
the upper houses and the lower houses flourish
and he who walked with the beating of drums
wanted to reach it.
The country has besieged all kings and betrayed the prophets.

Before I understood its language,
I was naïve, I only knew what was written in the geography book
and the political report.
I was stuffed with straw.
I didn't know that sand is alive
and rain is the master and the awaited lover
I didn't know that the sun only sits there
That the proud cities dress when their time comes
That the hearts flood over there
I was naïve, narrow minded and rebellious.

He said:
You ran away from me as a lonely cloud
And when you come
My worries disperse on the naked shoulder.
How the candle won't melt and you are what you are
This is the peak of fever
This is the time for penetration
So my beloved desert country, douse yourself in perfume.

Copyright Ashur Etwebi. Translation copyright 2007 by Ashur Etwebi. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.

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