The enemy’s dead think mercilessly of me in their eternal sleep
while ghosts take to the stairs and house corners
the ghosts that I picked off the road and gathered like necklaces
from others’ necks and sins.
Sin goes to the neck… there I raise my ghosts, feed them
and they swim like black horses in my sleep.
With the energy of a dead person the last blues song rises
while I think of jealousy
the door is a slit open and breath enters through the cracks, the river’s
respiration, the drunks
and the woman who wakes to her past in the public garden
and when I fall asleep
I find a horse grazing grass
whenever I fall asleep
a horse comes to graze my dreams.
On my desk in Ramallah there are unfinished letters and photos of
a poetry manuscript of a young man from Gaza, a sand hourglass,
and poem beginnings that flap like wings in my head.
I want to memorize you like that song in elementary school
the one I carry whole without errors
with my lisp and tilted head and dissonance
the little feet that stomp the concrete ground with fervor
the open hands that bang on the desks
All died in war, my friends and classmates…
and their little feet, their excited hands, remained
stomping the classroom floors, the dining tables and sidewalks,
The backs and shoulders of pedestrians…
Wherever I go
I hear them
I see them.
Copyright © 2012 by Fady Joudah, translated from the Arabic written by Ghassan Zaqtan, Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, Yale University Press