Issue 217, Summer 2016
Trucks of exile
cross the borders
through songs of exile
and sighing flames.
The wind is against us and the ash of war covers the earth. We see our spirit flash on a razor blade, a helmet’s curve. The brackish springs of autumn salt our wounds.
Doom drags at history’s face—our history needled with terror, a meadow of wild thorns.
In what salt rivers will we wash this story, stale with the smell of old maids and widows back from the hajj, our history stained with the sweat of dervishes’ loins, its springtime a feast for locusts?
Night thickens and a new day crawls forth over dead sparrows. The door rattles but doesn’t open. We cry out and dream of weeping and the eyes have no tears.
My country is a woman in heat, a bridge of lusts. Mercenaries cross her, applauded by the massing sands. From distant balconies we see what there is to see: animals slaughtered on the graves of children; smoking censers for holy saints; the black rock of tombstones. The fields are full of bones and vultures. The heroic statues soft cadavers.
So we go, chests bared to the sea. Old laments sleep under our tongues and our words have no heirs.
We reach out for alien islands, scenting a virgin strangeness in the sea’s abyss. We hear the sorrowful moan of our ships at port. Sorrow: a new moon rising, evil in its infancy. Rivers issue into the dead sea, where the night births weddings of sea scum and sand, locusts and sand.
So we go and fear scythes us down, crying out on muddy slopes. The earth bleeds all around us. The sea is a green wall.
—Translated from the Arabic by Robyn Creswell