Elegy for Imm ‘Ali1
Don’t go away!
Across the distances you kindle our fires,
deliver joy, ignite our dreams
Leaving was never your style; you were always
about to arrive
Now the flower vendors close their shops
under the blitz, and
darkness prepares to depart
This city you loved,
crowded with history, iron, and anger,
braids her joy with fatigue
and threatens to fall into oblivion
She huddles over its newborn dawn
planting stars in that hopeful sphere,
and repressing her tears in the songs
How could you leave us
with no goodbyes?
You, who always repressed your tears
from you I learned how basil grows
how the sky descends
to rest in your arms
You wiped the sorrow away from
From you I learned about how the heart can be
a live coal, a burning flower
Now the dignity of your great death
opens up wounds
that even trees bleed,
Source: Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature. Poem translated by May Jayyousi and Naomi Shihab Nye, p 280-281.
1 Imm ‘Ali was a Palestinian woman, active in the resistance movement, and was killed.