Ghassan Zaqtan

1954 / Beit Jala / Palestine

Ancient Alleyways

Aside form her fingers, she got no sleep
she was there suspended in remembrance
patching up their dreams in a dim light

one bell was crimping the path to her house
one patient bell ascending the hillside
of junkyard and convent

One bell was limping behind the fence
and the Muslim cemetery
and passing in the privacy of jinn and sleeping dead
by the springs on the boulevards of birds

One bell for stranger women
for the few wishes and for summer

for old outfits and school books
and boys dead by the attic doors

One bell ascending the hill behind the ancient time
behind the shrubs on the foot-slope
where old dogs are tucked in the story
and the houses are gathered in the patient air

One bell was calling her by her name while ascending
perhaps to see her letter cursive
above the pine grove
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