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Who Am I, Without Exile?

 

A stranger on the riverbank, like the river ... water

binds me to your name. Nothing brings me back from my faraway

to my palm tree: not peace and not war. Nothing

makes me enter the gospels. Not

a thing ... nothing sparkles from the shore of ebb

and flow between the Euphrates and the Nile. Nothing

makes me descend from the pharaoh’s boats. Nothing

carries me or makes me carry an idea: not longing

and not promise. What will I do? What

will I do without exile, and a long night

that stares at the water?

 

Water

binds me

to your name ...

Nothing takes me from the butterflies of my dreams

to my reality: not dust and not fire. What

will I do without roses from Samarkand? What

will I do in a theater that burnishes the singers with its lunar

stones? Our weight has become light like our houses

in the faraway winds. We have become two friends of the strange

creatures in the clouds ... and we are now loosened

from the gravity of identity’s land. What will we do … what

will we do without exile, and a long night

that stares at the water?

 

Water

binds me

to your name ...

There’s nothing left of me but you, and nothing left of you

but me, the stranger massaging his stranger’s thigh: O

stranger! what will we do with what is left to us

of calm ... and of a snooze between two myths?

And nothing carries us: not the road and not the house.

Was this road always like this, from the start,

or did our dreams find a mare on the hill

among the Mongol horses and exchange us for it?

And what will we do?

What

will we do

without

exile?

 

Mahmoud Darwish, "Who Am I, Without Exile?" from The Butterfly’s Burden. Copyright © 2008 by Mahmoud Darwish, English translation by Fady Joudah.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. www.coppercanyonpress.org

Source: The Butterfly’s Burden (Copper Canyon Press, 2007)