I Didn't Apologize to the Well
I didn't apologize to the well when I passed the well, I borrowed from the ancient pine tree a cloud and squeezed it like an orange, then waited for a gazelle white and legendary. And I ordered my heart to be patient: Be neutral as if you were not of me! Right here the kind shepherds stood on air and evolved their flutes, then persuaded the mountain quail toward the snare. And right here I saddled a horse for flying toward my planets, then flew. And right here the priestess told me: Beware of the asphalt road and the cars and walk upon your exhalation. Right here I slackened my shadow and waited, I picked the tiniest rock and stayed up late. I broke the myth and I broke. And I circled the well until I flew from myself to what isn't of it. A deep voice shouted at me: This grave isn't your grave. So I apologized. I read verses from the wise holy book, and said to the unknown one in the well: Salaam upon you the day you were killed in the land of peace, and the day you rise from the darkness of the well alive!
From The Butterfly's Burden (2007) by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Fady Joudah, published by Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2007 by Mahmoud Darwish. Translation and preface copyright © 2007 by Fady Joudah. Used with permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.