I Didn't Apologize to the Well

- 1941-2008
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! 

More by Mahmoud Darwish

I Belong There

I belong there. I have many memories. I was born as everyone is born.
I have a mother, a house with many windows, brothers, friends, and a prison cell
with a chilly window! I have a wave snatched by seagulls, a panorama of my own.
I have a saturated meadow. In the deep horizon of my word, I have a moon,
a bird's sustenance, and an immortal olive tree.
I have lived on the land long before swords turned man into prey.
I belong there. When heaven mourns for her mother, I return heaven to 
   her mother.
And I cry so that a returning cloud might carry my tears.
To break the rules, I have learned all the words needed for a trial by blood.
I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them a 
   single word: Home.

In Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing
the history of the holy . . . ascending to heaven
and returning less discouraged and melancholy, because love
and peace are holy and are coming to town.
I was walking down a slope and thinking to myself: How
do the narrators disagree over what light said about a stone?
Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up?
I walk in my sleep. I stare in my sleep. I see
no one behind me. I see no one ahead of me.
All this light is for me. I walk. I become lighter. I fly
then I become another. Transfigured. Words
sprout like grass from Isaiah’s messenger
mouth: “If you don’t believe you won’t believe.”
I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white
biblical rose. And my hands like two doves
on the cross hovering and carrying the earth.
I don’t walk, I fly, I become another,
transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I?
I am no I in ascension’s presence. But I
think to myself: Alone, the prophet Mohammad
spoke classical Arabic. “And then what?”
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn’t I kill you?
I said: You killed me . . . and I forgot, like you, to die.

A Noun Sentence

A noun sentence, no verb 
to it or in it: to the sea the scent of the bed 
after making love ... a salty perfume 
or a sour one. A noun sentence: my wounded joy 
like the sunset at your strange windows. 
My flower green like the phoenix. My heart exceeding 
my need, hesitant between two doors: 
entry a joke, and exit 
a labyrinth. Where is my shadow—my guide amid 
the crowdedness on the road to judgment day? And I 
as an ancient stone of two dark colors in the city wall, 
chestnut and black, a protruding insensitivity 
toward my visitors and the interpretation of shadows. Wishing 
for the present tense a foothold for walking behind me 
or ahead of me, barefoot. Where 
is my second road to the staircase of expanse? Where 
is futility? Where is the road to the road? 
And where are we, the marching on the footpath of the present 
tense, where are we? Our talk a predicate 
and a subject before the sea, and the elusive foam 
of speech the dots on the letters, 
wishing for the present tense a foothold 
on the pavement ...