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Without exile, who am I?

Poem No.: 93 النص العربي: لا يوجد


Stranger on the bank, like the river . . . tied up to your

name by water. Nothing will bring me back from my free

distance to my palm tree: not peace, nor war. Nothing

will inscribe me in the Book of Testaments. Nothing,

nothing glints off the shore of ebb and flow, between

the Tigris and the Nile. Nothing

gets me off the chariots of Pharaoh. Nothing

carries me for a while, or makes me carry an idea: not

promises, nor nostalgia. What am I to do, then? What

am I to do without exile, without a long night

staring at the water?

Tied up

to your name

by water . . .

Nothing takes me away from the butterfly of my dreams

back into my present: not earth, nor fire. What

am I to do, then, without the roses of Samarkand? What

am I to do in a square that burnishes the chanters with

moon-shaped stones? Lighter we both have

become, like our homes in the distant winds. We have

both become friends with the clouds'

strange creatures; outside the reach of the gravity

of the Land of Identity. What are we to do, then . . . What

are we to do without exile, without a long night

staring at the water?

Tied up

to your name

by water . . .

Nothing's left of me except for you; nothing's left of you

except for me -- a stranger caressing his lover's thigh: O

my stranger! What are we to do with what's left for us

of the stillness, of the siesta that separates legend from legend?

Nothing will carry us: not the road, nor home.

Was this road the same from the start,

or did our dreams find a mare among the horses

of the Mongols on the hill, and trade us off?

And what are we to do, then?

What

are we to do

without

exile?

___________

Translated by Anton Shammas from 'The Bed of the Stranger', Riad El-Rayyes Books, Beirut,


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