Grandfather, old hunter,
I read goodness in your face.
At your age I avoided
killing the evening blackbirds.
When I was vigorous
as you I'd look away
from the snake shedding
its threadbare clothes
and whisper, "Never mind,"
L'aisa. I'll feed
your mangy dog,
fetch water and tobacco,
but I won't warn
the gazelles,
nor the wild pigeons,
and I won't report
to the gamekeepers.
You with the hunting knives
thrust in your belts,
friendship binds us
as we search
in pockets and hats
for the fledglings
of the partridges.
Oh my comrades-in-thirst
lamenting the hares
who claim and leave
no pure heart
for any other creature.
Please, let me wander
under the range
of your rifle,
in these deserted gardens
and ruined terraces,
to the fig tree,
let me approach the cypress,
and after the harvest
catch and slaughter me
with the threads
that dangle
from your satchels and sleeves,
like the chicken's guts
spilling out of its belly.

Translated by Gabriel Levin, with Taha Muhammad Ali