Blesok no. 26, May-June, 2002

Life There

Wadih Sa'adeh


Wasting time,
he sketched a vase.
He drew a flower in the vase.
Perfume rose from the paper.
He drew a jug.
Having sipped a little water,
he poured some over the flower.
He drew a room
with a bed,
then he slept.
When he awoke
he drew an ocean,
a fathomless ocean,
which swept him away.

A Country

It took its name
from water
and started to flow
The foam we saw
riding the waves
was its people
The grass over the dunes
their ribs
A country
whose men all
had departed, and so
the women were wed
to trees


That day
under an oak tree in an open square,
only two stone seats were unoccupied.
These seats were silent,
gazing at each other,


He raised his hand
as though he wanted
to speak.


With what meagre space
remaining between his hands
he tried to reconstruct
a universe: with a tear,
he drew a star, a moon with a glance,
and with a single touch, a sun.
When he closed his eyes,
people commuted to their work
on the sidewalk of his eyelids.


They glided down towards the sea,
drifting from their mountains like soft shadows,
in case they woke the grass.
Passing over fields,
some shadows whispered farewell and slept;
others clung to rocks and stretched,
dragging the people back.
As they moved, exhausted,
towards the sea,
the sun above them was
searching for a needle
to stitch them once more, to their shadows.


Words he had spoken
were on the chairs, beds, near cupboards and walls.
A maid was brought in to tidy the house,
to clean the furniture, dishes and walls.
They brought paint
and new voices.
       But they still could hear his words.


       Before killing each other,
they trained for many years
to be partridge hunters;
to toss pebbles in the air,
marking them with bullets.
They trained to pluck the wings of birds
to make brooms from the feathers.
They tried to grow feathers on their hands,
so they would become birds.
Then they died,
       like hunted birds.

Life There

There she buried
her child, and waited
to lie beside him for years.
When finally
they lowered her down
into that soil,
She was only one day old
while he was already
an old man.


He sat on the balcony
trying to touch the fingers of the wind
playing with his hair.
When the wind moved a flower
he would say it was a hand.
When lightning flashed across the sky
he would say it was a glance,
a smile that might have
left lips
to come and rest with him.
He sat on the balcony
trying to think of some people
to fill the empty seats around him.

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