(For Fadwa Tuqan)
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.
Translated by Lena Jayyusi and Christopher Middleton
Last update: 08:27 PM Thursday, March 9, 2006