Do not fill postcards with memories
Between my heart and the luxury of passion
stretches a desert where ropes of fire
blaze and smolder, where snakes
coil and recoil, swallowing blossoms
with poison and flame.

No! Don't ask me to remember. Love's memory
is dark, the dream clouded;
love is a lost phantom
in a wilderness night.
Friend, the night has slain the moon.
In the mirror of my heart you can find no shelter,
only my country's disfigured face,
her face, lovely and mutilated,
her precious face ...

How did the world revolve in this way?
Our love was young. Did it grow in this horror?
In the night of defeat, black waters
covered my land, blood on the walls
was the only bouquet.
I hallucinated: "Open your breast,
open your mother's breast for an embrace
priceless are the offerings!"
The jungle beast was toasting in the
tavern of crime; winds of misfortune
howled in the four corners.
He was with me that day.
I didn't realize morning
would remove him.
Our smiles cheated sorrow
as I raved: "Beloved stranger!
Why did my country become a gateway
to hell? Since when are apples bitter?
When did moonlight stop bathing orchards?
My people used to plant fields and love life
Joyfully they dipped their bread in oil
Fruits and flowers tinted the land
with magnificent hues -
will the seasons ever again
give their gifts to my people?"
Sorrow - Jerusalem's night is silence and smoke.
They imposed a curfew; now nothing beats in the
heart of the City but their bloodied heels
under which Jerusalem trembles
like a raped girl.

Two shadows from a balcony stared down at the City's night. In the corner a suitcase of clothes,
souvenirs from the Holy Land -
his blue eyes stretched like sad lakes.
He loved Jerusalem. She was his mystical lover.
On and on I ranted, "Ah, love! Why did God abandon
my country? Imprisoning light, leaving us
in seas of darkness?"
The world was a mythical dragon standing
at her gate. "Who will ever solve this mystery,
beloved, the secret of these words?"

Now twenty moons have passed,
twenty moons, and my life continues.
Your absence too continues. Only one memory remaining:
The face of my stricken country filling my heart.

And my life continues -
the wind merges me with my people
on the terrible road of rocks and thorns.
But behind the river, dark forests of spears
sway and swell; the roaring storm
unravels mystery, giving to dragon-silence
the power of words.
A rush and din, flame and sparks
lighting the road -
one group after another
falls embracing, in one lofty death.
The night, no matter how long, will continue
to give birth to star after star
and my life continues,
my life continues.

From Modem Palestinian Poetry, translated by Patricia Alanah Byrne with the help of the editor [Salma Khadra Jayyusi], and Naomi Shihab Nye.