Sonnet V

Mahmoud Darwish - 1941-2008
I touch you as a lonely violin touches the suburbs of the faraway place 
patiently the river asks for its share of the drizzle 
and, bit by bit, a tomorrow passing in poems approaches 
so I carry faraway's land and it carries me on travel's road 

On a mare made of your virtues, my soul weaves 
a natural sky made of your shadows, one chrysalis at a time. 
I am the son of what you do in the earth, son of my wounds 
that have lit up the pomegranate blossoms in your closed-up gardens 

Out of jasmine the night's blood streams white. Your perfume, 
my weakness and your secret, follows me like a snakebite. And your hair 
is a tent of wind autumn in color. I walk along with speech 
to the last of the words a bedouin told a pair of doves
 
I palpate you as a violin palpates the silk of the faraway time 
and around me and you sprouts the grass of an ancient place—anew 

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 ...