Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Poems About Homeland Lost

Here are a few selections from The Space Between Our Footsteps (mentioned in the previous post). The chapter is "Pick a Sky and Name it." The notes in italics were added by me.

Why Are We in Exile the Refugees Ask

Why do we die
In silence
And I had a house
And I had . . .
And here you are
Without a heart, without a voice
Wailing, and here you are
Why are we in exile?
We die
We die in silence
Why are we not crying?
On fire,
On thorns
We walked
And my people walked
Why are we Lord
Without a country, without love
We die
We die in terror
Why are we in exile
Why are we Lord?

-Abdul Wahab al-Bayati
(translated by Abdullah al-Udhari)

But I Heard the Drops

My father had a reservoir
of tears.
They trickled down
But I heard the drops
from his voice
like drops
from a loosened tap.
For thirty years
I heard them.

-Sharif S. Elmusa
Born in 1947, and became a refugee the next year. Meanwhile, the thirty years has turned to sixty.


Anxious, anxious am I for a homeland,
The windows of my longing are open.
How tired I am of moving around
The walking stick of travel
is nearly broken
So I take refuge in my dreams
I sing my songs
I travel in my imagination
to the shores of my homeland
Oh, how much I long for a homeland

-Balkis Saleem Zaghal
A sixth grader living in the West Bank.
(translated by Aziz Shihab)

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