In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing
the history of the holy … ascending to heaven
and returning less discouraged and melancholy, because love
and peace are holy and are coming to town.
I was walking down a slope and thinking to myself: How
do the narrators disagree over what light said about a stone?
Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up?
I walk in my sleep. I stare in my sleep. I see
no one behind me. I see no one ahead of me.
All this light is for me. I walk. I become lighter. I fly
then I become another. Transfigured. Words
sprout like grass from Isaiah's messenger
mouth: “If you don't believe you won't be safe.”
I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white
biblical rose. And my hands like two doves
on the cross hovering and carrying the earth.
I don't walk, I fly, I become another,
transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I?
I am no I in ascension's presence. But I
think to myself: Alone, the prophet Muhammad
spoke classical Arabic. “And then what?”
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn't I kill you?
I said: You killed me … and I forgot, like you, to die.
They Would Love To See Me Dead
They would love to see me dead, so they say: He belongs to us, he is ours.
For twenty years I have heard their footsteps on the walls of the night.
They open no door, yet here they are now. I see three of them:
A poet, a killer, and a reader of books.
Will you have some wine? I asked.
Yes, they answered.
When do you plan to shoot me? I asked.
Take it easy, they answered.
They lined up their glasses all in a row and started singing for the people.
I asked: When will you begin my assassination?
Already done, they said … Why did you send your shoes on ahead to your soul?
So it can wander the face of the earth, I said.
The earth is wickedly dark, so why is your poem so white?
Because my heart is teeming with thirty seas, I answered.
They asked: Why do you love French wine?
Because I ought to love the most beautiful women, I answered.
They asked: How would you like your death?
Blue, like stars pouring from a window—would you like more wine?
Yes, we'll drink, they said.
Please take your time. I want you to kill me slowly so I can write my last
poem to my heart's wife. They laughed, and took from me
only the words dedicated to my heart's wife.
Diary Of A Palestinian Wound
We do not need to be reminded:
Mount Carmel is in us
and on our eyelashes the grass of Galilee.
Do not say: If we could run to her like a river.
Do not say it:
We and our country are one flesh and bone.
Before June we were not fledgeling doves
so our love did not wither in bondage.
Sister, these twenty years
our work was not to write poems
but to be fighting.
The shadow that descends over your eyes
demon of a God
who came out of the month of June
to wrap around our heads the sun-
his color is martyrdom
the taste of prayer.
How well he kills, how well he resurrects!
The night that began in your eyes-
in my soul it was a long night's end:
Here and now we keep company
on the road of our return
from the age of drought.
And we came to know what makes the voice of the nightingale
a dagger shining in the face of the invaders.
We came to know what makes the silence of the graveyard
a festival…orchards of life.
You sang your poems, I saw the balconies
desert their walls
the city square extending to the midriff of the mountain:
It was not music we heard.
It was not the color of words we saw:
A million heroes were in the room.
This land absorbs the skins of martyrs.
This land promises wheat and stars.
We are its salt and its water.
We are its wound, but a wound that fights.
Sister, there are tears in my throat
and there is fire in my eyes:
I am free.
No more shall I protest at the Sultan's Gate.
All who have died, all who shall die at the Gate of Day
have embraced me, have made of me a weapon.
Ah my intractable wound!
My country is not a suitcase
I am not a traveler
I am the lover and the land is the beloved.
The archaeologist is busy analyzing stones.
In the rubble of legends he searches for his own eyes
that I am a sightless vagrant on the road
with not one letter in civilization's alphabet.
Meanwhile in my own time I plant my trees.
I sing of my love.
It is time for me to exchange the word for the deed
Time to prove my love for the land and for the nightingale:
For in this age the weapon devours the guitar
And in the mirror I have been fading more and more
Since at my back a tree began to grow.