Blesok no. 87, November-December, 2012

Why Did She Come?

Iman Mersal

Why Did She Come?

Why did she come to the New World, this mummy, this subject of spectacle
sleeping in her full ornament of gray gauze,
an imaginary life in a museum display case?
I think mummification is contrary to immortality
because a preserved corpse will never be a part of a rose.
The mummy did not choose migration, but those who waited in long lines
at consulates and built houses in other countries
still dream of returning when they become corpses.
—You have to take us there!
This is what they instruct in wills they hang around their children’s necks
as if death is an unfinished identity
that matures only in the family burial plot.


I used to think there was a lot of evil in the world,
for although I am the most tender of my friends, I never saw a flower in a vase
without crushing its petal between my thumb and forefinger
to make sure it was not made of plastic.

Lately I’ve started to doubt the very existence of evil.
It seems to me that all the harm will have already been done
by the time we find out that the creatures we bled were real.

Family Photo

A woman and a child, pale because the photo was not cleared of the fixer. The woman does not smile (even though she did not know she would die exactly forty-seven days later). The girl does not smile (even though she did not know what death was). The woman has the girl’s lips and her brow (the girl has the nose of the man who will remain forever outside the frame). The woman’s hand is on the child’s shoulder, the child’s hand is in a fist (not out of anger but to hold half a toffee). The woman’s watch does not work, it has a wide strap (out of fashion in 1974), and the girl’s dress is not of Egyptian cotton (Nasser, who manufactured everything from the needle to the rocket, died years ago). The shoes are imported from Gaza (and as you know Gaza is no longer at all a free zone).


Usually the windows are gray
and splendid in their width
allowing the bed-ridden
to view the traffic below
and the weather outside.

Usually the doctors have sharp noses
and eyeglasses
that secure the distance between them and pain.

Usually relatives place
flowers in doorways
seeking forgiveness
from their future dead.

Usually unadorned women
walk the hallway tiles,
and sons stand under light fixtures
clutching x-ray sheets
affirming that cruelty could fade
if only their parents had more time.

Usually everything recurs
and the wards are filled with new bodies
as if a punctured lung
is sucking away all the world’s oxygen
leaving all these chests
without breath.

Respecting Marx

Facing bright storefronts
flourishing with panties
I cannot stop myself
from thinking of Marx.

Respecting Marx
is the only thing all those who loved me shared
and I have allowed them all, in varying degrees,
to claw at the cotton dolls
hidden in my body.

Karl Marx,
I will never forgive him.


I should have become a doctor
so that I could track the EKG
with my own eyes,
and confirm that the clot
was a mere cloud
that would break into normal tears
when enough warmth is given.
But I am useful to no one
and my father who cannot sleep in his own bed
now sleeps deeply on a stretcher
in a wide hall.

That’s Good

Volunteers’ shoulders
carried the man from the next bed
to the public graveyard.

That’s good for you.
Death cannot repeat its deed
in the same room.


Silent women
filled the corridor leading to you.
They prepared for a ritual
to scrape rust
piled on throats
that can only test their range
in collective screaming.

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