Bringing Back a Melted Person / Wadih Sa’adeh

This lake is not water. It was a person to whom I spoke at length, then he dissolved.
And I am not trying now to look at water, but rather I’m trying to recover a dissolved person. How do people become lakes like this, which tree-leaves and algae top?
Drop by drop, the dead descend on my door.
A boat stops for me under the sun.
And a wretched fit of trembling returns to sand.
I didn’t shiver, but I went mad. The water is cold, but I didn’t shiver.
I just trembled a little. Then I went mad.
On the surface of the lake is a leaf. It was an eye. On the bank was a bough, which was a human rib.
I try now to gather the leaves and boughs. I try to gather a person I loved.
But many have passed by here. They gathered leaves and firewood to kindle their hearths.
Gathering together a person will never happen. Gathering a complete set of limbs won’t happen. Many of them were burned.
Nonetheless I must restore a person I loved. Loved ones must come back if you call them. They must come back even if they were water. If they were dead. If they were algae. Algae must become a human being when you summon it. And he will come, even if wet, if bloated, if rotten. It must come back a friend even if he died one thousand years ago.
There must be some way to gather people from the banks, a way to turn the
leaves and boughs floating on lakes into human beings.
I didn’t shiver. The limbs shivered. I had to plug the space between their joints in order to stop their shivers so they would still.
But how very protracted is the distance between joints!
I run slowly like the last drop of water which came down, and was too late to flow.
I run slowly scrambling to catch up with the running, and evaporate by and by.
I won’t make it. Part of me will come to be in space and part of me will sink into the earth.
I’m late for my comrades and won’t make it. I creep on but I won’t make it.
Pieces of me I lose, pieces accompany me exhausted, and pieces become free-floating particles.
Even if I make it, which thing of me will make it?
Around me is grass and pebbles and dirt. Birds peck at part of me. Ants eat part of me. And part of me belongs to the grass and pebbles and dirt.
I run slowly, and above me rises a thread of me, and below me descends a thread of me. I run slowly between two needles stitching my nothingness.
I came down the last drop. I was in the cloud and came down. Am I looking for a person who dissolved or am I the one dissolving? Or have I, from searching so much for his dissolution, dissolved like him?
And I’ve come, instead of searching for him, to search for me!
I see on the way people going by. Part of what remains of me sees people.
These, most likely, haven’t lost a person they love. Or they lost him and despite that are completing the way?!
I don’t know how our legs don’t stop walking when we lose a person we love. Weren’t we walking, not on our feet, but on his? Wasn’t the whole excursion for his sake? Wasn’t he the excursion?
How can one walk if he’s lost a person? I stopped. He was the one walking and I his follower. I was the one walking in him. When he stopped, I no longer had feet.
I’m late, creeping, and I’m evaporating. How then will I bring back a person who has dissolved? Mustn’t I, more precisely, bring back myself first? Come back at least as a whole drop of water coming down on a leaf, on an eye, on a rib, on a shore?
Mustn’t I, in order to extract a person from algae, be at least of lake water?
I’m late and I won’t make it. All that I can do is see. I see from far off. Distorted vision from the eye of a thing that is not cloud nor water nor solid nor vapor.
Then I don’t see.
All of this is merely imagining. A glooming dark imploring glooming dark. I will not see and I won’t make it and I won’t restore a person and I won’t bring him back . . .
I just am trying to creep along. I’m trying to catch up to my comrades.
But they’ve come to be far off, very far off.
Perhaps in the past I was a person searching for a person who had dissolved, or perhaps I was the one dissolving. Now not even a drop. And in my frightening identification between the water and vapor and the person, I search for a name with which to introduce myself when I meet up with the ants and grass and birds.
You are creeping like me. You will necessarily stop on a protrusion. Send me out a cry from there, and I’ll name myself with it.
Identifying between water and solid and vapor. Even so I have joints!
And there are empty places between my joints.
Waters crash into them. Winds crash into them and people crash into them.
Many people now traverse my joints. I don’t know whence they come or whither they go. But they crash against my bones.
People I encountered once; people I encountered many times; people I have never encountered . . . but they gush out now, and bang on my bones.
I must open these bones so they may enter.
If only these bones were a door.
From whence have they come?!
I think that those we look at enter our bodies via our eyes and become flesh and blood.
Some of them become some of those straying past between our joints
and we continue thus hearing the raps on our bones.
I now hear water knockings
I must open.


Translated by : Clarissa C. Burt

From: محاولة وصل ضفتين بصوت
Publisher: Dar Annahar, Beirut, 1997