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Chapter III / Amal Donkol

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I said:
Let love be on earth, and it was not
I said:
Let river dissolve into ocean
Ocean into drought
Drought into fertility
Sprouting bread to sustain hungry hearts
Grass for the earth’s cattle
Shade for exiles in sorrow’s desert
I saw the son of Adam
Raising his fences around God’s personal farm
Shopping for border guards
Selling bread and water to his brethren
Milking lean cows
I said:
Let love be on earth, and it was not
Love was now possessed
By those who could afford the price
And God saw this was not good
I said:
Let justice be on earth
An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth
I said:
Does the wolf devour the wolf?
The goat devour the goat?
Don’t brandish the sword against the necks of these two:
The child or the old man
And I came to see the son of Adam
Slaughtering the son of Adam
Setting cities ablaze
Planting his dagger in the bellies of pregnant women
Giving his children’s fmgers as fodder to horses
Decorating victory banquet with rosettes of severed lips
Justice become death
The gun its measure
Its children crucified in public squares and city street corners
I said:
Let justice be on earth
But it was not
Justice was now possessed
By figures seated on thrones of skulls
With shrouds for mantles
And God saw this was not good
I said:
Let reason be on earth
With its measured voice
I said:
Do birds build nests in a snake’s mouth?
Do worms live in fiery flames?
Does the owl paint its eye-lashes black with Kohl?
Is salt strewn when wheat is intended
In the run of time’s wheel?
I saw the son of Adam go mad:
Uprooting tall trees
Spitting in wells
Spilling oil on the face river’s face
Living in a house while storing a deadly bomb
Under the sill
Giving shelter to scorpions in the warmth of his ribs
Bequeathing to his descendants
His faith
His name
His shirt of strife
Reason become an exiled beggar
Stoned by brats
Arrested by border guards
His patriotic identity invalidated by governments
His name listed among those who hate their homeland
I said:
Let reason be on earth
But it was not
Reason fell apart in a spiral of exile and prison
Until it went mad
And God saw this was not good

Translated by: Ferial J. Ghazoul / Jehat

Filed under: Arab lit and art, Articles, English

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