Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea [excerpt]

Through your eye
history enters
and punctured helmets pour out.

Frequent tremors occur in your land
as if invisible hands shake your trees day and night.

They blockaded you and banished the oxygen from your water,
leaving the hydrogen atoms to quarrel with one another.

Shouldn't the nations be disturbed by the face of a child
who shuts her mouth and eyes
in surrender to UN resolutions?
But they only opened their own mouths slightly,
smaller than a bud,
as if yawning or smiling.

We made room in our day for every star,
and our dead remained without graves.

We wrote the names of each flower on the walls
and we, the sheep, drew the grass
—our favorite meal—
and we stood with our arms open to the air
so we looked like trees.
All this to change the fences into gardens.
A naïve bee was tricked and smashed into a wall,
flying toward what it thought was a flower.
Shouldn't the bee be able to fly over the fence-tops?

Long lines are in front of us.
Standing, we count flasks of flour on our fingers
and divide the sun among the communicating vessels.

We sleep standing in line
and the experts think up plans for vertical tombs
because we will die standing.

Credit


Copyright © 2009 by Dunya Mikhail. From Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea (New Directions, 2009), translated from the Arabic by Elizabeth Winslow. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Author


Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail is the author of several books, including The Iraqi Nights (New Directions, 2014), Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea (New Directions, 2009), and The War Works Hard (New Directions, 2005).

 

Date Published: 2016-03-25

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/diary-wave-outside-sea-excerpt