Ghassan Zaqtan

1954 / Beit Jala / Palestine

An Enemy Descends The Hill

As he descends,
As we watch him descend,
As he conveys to us that he is
About to descend

Warily, silently

His illicit presence
As he carefully listens at the shrubs.

His fear as he descends
The withheld silence
That he is not 'us'
Not 'here'
Death begins.

He seizes a flower
Just a flower
With no message to convey
No vase for it.

From the hill
He can see
The military checkpoint
The paratroopers
He can see the desperate people;
The slopes of the mountains;
The only path
Where their feet will leave imprints in the rocks
In mud and water.

He can also see
The losses from the hill
Left hurriedly behind

The equivocation of shadows
Where the mustached enemy
Resembles the dead Arabs here.
In the slopes of the mountains
The caves will all appear peaceful
The road always look the same.

As he descends
The caves in the mountains
Continue to stare
They blink in the cold.

Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah
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