IF I WERE A HIEROGLYPH
The vulture, symbol for “mother”
stands for sight because of his keen vision.
A mother with keen vision,
Where is Home?
To the faces that harden behind a mask of gloom
I bow, and to streets where I left behind my tears;
To a father who died, green as a cloud
With a sail on his face, I bow,
And to a child that is sold
In order to pray and clean shoes
(In our land we all pray and clean shoes);
To a stone I inscribed with my hunger,
Saying it was lightning and rain, drops rolling under my eyelids,
And to a house whose dust I carried with me in my loss
I bow-all these are my homeland, not Damascus.
Poetry from the Arab Spring
SALAH ‘ABD AL-SABUR (b. 1931-Egypt)
Our fire is approaching the city,
To destroy the throne of the city.
We shall destroy the throne of the city,
We shall live and, through the arrows, cross over
To the land of troubled transparency,
Behind that mask hanging on the revolving stone,
Around the whirlpool of terror,
Around speech and echo;
And we shall wash clean the bowels of day, its intestines and its
And burn that patched-up being called the city.
Fadwa Tuqan’s poetry is powerful, moving, concise and provocative. Here is my favourite poem by her:
Enough for Me
Enough for me to die on her earth
be buried in her
to melt and vanish into her soil
then sprout forth as a flower
played with by a child from my country.
Enough for me to remain
in my country’s embrace
to be in her close as a handful of dust
a sprig of grass