Abbas Beydoun

1945 / lebanon / Sur

The Distance Between Two Boats

Papers I find when rummaging through my
drawers never stop and when I think it's all over they
keep coming back again. They must have come from distant
places, totally empty places. They travelled
for years, and not in vain. They may be
returning letters that lost
their return addresses and no one bothered to grant them
a passport. They may be the scary predictions
I uttered once, whose expiration date is yet
to come: suicide proclamations and terrifying warnings
that were never seen through. They could be my father's responses,
with whom I'd started a posthumous dialogue.
The distance between two boats is itself a boat too.
Silence is not just another death even if
we're exhausted, hopping between its seconds.
Many papers I don't know where they came from
but they suffer for sure in order to make us
understand. We're troubled by their appearance, as if they were
asking us to pay a debt the size of our lives, or suing us
in a case about which we know nothing. They nag us the way
amnesia does, repeating the only name
it can hardly pronounce. They could be an obscure
transmission, or maybe the poem that was lost
from my drawers a minute ago.
Souls of volumes removed without regret from
the library that became a blank in my
imagination. Titles trying to come back but
what we don't forget is what wasn't realized: wishes
and desires we were too indolent to pursue and which
we find years later as papers empty
of regrets and desire in our drawers; or
despotic desires that persist until they
get tired and leave us as blank letters to
no one. Blank papers among others
that are drafts. The lost poems
and the caesuras between the piano strokes
or switching boats for free,
the distance between two bodies is
itself a body too.
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