I feel my limbs,
but cannot find them.
I implore my sense of sight,
but see nothing beyond a neutral gray.
Suddenly, warm radiates through the sand
crowding my spirit.
I discover my hands and legs,
there they are, familiar limbs,
assembling themselves into a heap of sand!
My body sees me.
Here I am, creating myself in my own image.
Here I am, the first human on another planet called:
One could say then that humanity
reconsiders the laws, and the laws of the laws,
takes phenomena seriously,
in anticipation of what surprises the future holds
in the galaxy's enchanted whirl,
orbited by earthly satellites
gushing from wombs of volcanoes
to be grabbed immediately
by space scientists
who bless them with the loveliest names:
One cannot help being astonished
at the breakdown of norms and mores,
at the simultaneous fall of all equations,
let alone fig trees, bonds, travel tickets, house arrests,
school and marriage certificates'"
let alone global conventions: the Third World,
European Common Market, the Stock Market,
Alignment and Non-alignment, Nuclear Weapons, Disarmament,
and documents of death.
Come with me, Bedouin girl,
you have not yet spoken,
come, let's give names to new things,
they may give us back our own names in return.
In my name you rise from the dead.
In your name I make death acceptable,
a familiar morning greeting,
a bending over the neighbor's fence
to pluck a little rose for a tired lapel.
o virgin Bedouin girl, with lips open,
but silent, you see everything
through the transparent wall of Apocalypse,
you bear on your shoulders the burden of everything:
storms, bloodstained hands, children's lips
still clutching their mother's severed breasts,
everything: trees twisted in the mud,
tall blackened buildings, broken windows,
charred skeletons sitting cross-legged
cigarette in hand, watching the TV set continue its broadcast (live
under the rubble)
of the emergency session
of the United Nations ... etc. etc.
You see through the transparent wall
of Apocalypse sound mufflers on secret guns,
nickel handcuffs, police billy clubs, tanks,
tear gas bombs, demonstrations, burning car tires,
and bullets fired into the air,
apologizing to angels,
making their way straight
to the schoolgirls' breasts.
At this, international agencies would hurry
to quiet reactions and rumors
while the doleful, angry chorus
exercises its absolute freedom
in the biggest armed robbery
The present is an innocent lie.
To see the future we must consult the past ¬a past
ever-present before our eyes,
a mammoth octopus.
o virgin desert!
Here we are, sent by the heart and mind
on an official mission
to build the world anew.
To prepare it once again
for another Apocalypse!
Tree trunk against tree trunk,
stone next to stone,
thus the relationship takes form.
We begin from here
though doubts sometimes assail us.
Sometimes we'll miss one another,
but we won't be afraid to look behind.
new children will be born,
they'll ask their fathers sternly:
Why? For whom? When and how?
There won't be anyone to answer
except the ground waters singing:
I am grief! I announce my innocence!
I am desire! I enforce my authority!
I am love! I spread my sails on land
and scatter my seeds in the furrows of the sea.
I am hate! Your fire, your sacred fire!
Nothing remains the same.
In the long run, motion asserts itself,
erects new rules over the pure sands
now subject to factories' oil,
fires, the vomit of the sick,
and the wretched human din.
But after all this
there must be some recompense
for the children are about to go to school.
So let the storms subside a little
and the darkness lift itself off part of the road
for their sakes, for their sakes only,
for the sake of the children
going to school
after the Apocalypse!
From Modem Palestinian Poetry, edited by Salma Khadra Jayussi.
Translated by Sharif Elmusa and Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted by
permission of the editor.