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When he comes down

or is seen coming down

when he reveals to us that he is coming down.

The waiting and silence

his entire lack

when he hearkens before the plants.

His caution when he comes down

like one postponed by a hush,

and by his being not “us”

and not “here”

death begins.

He bought a flower

nothing more, a flower

that has no vase and leaves no will.

From the hill, he can spot the military checkpoint, the paratroopers,

he can spot the squatters, the mountain edges, and the only road

where their feet will leave a print in the rocks, mud, and water.

Losses also will appear from the hill

abandoned without effort.

And the fragility in shadow,

the Jewish man with a long mustache

who resembles the dead Arabs here.

From the mountain edges, all the caves will appear peaceful

and the road will seem as it were.

While he was coming down

the caves continued to stare

and blink in the cold.

An Enemy Comes Down the Hill

Fady Joudah, translation from
the Arabic written by Ghassan Zaqtan

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