Ghassan Zaqtan

1954 / Beit Jala / Palestine

Remembering Fatima

How clear it was the singing of the Moroccans who were swimming
on the river's face before sunset, the women who leaned on the bridge
among their children and vegetable baskets and tombs of saints…

Distant Rabat with its people where al-Andalus hides,
Rabat, whenever I say I shall leave its halls, I spread for my will a rug
and it spreads a rug

O Fatima
if only you would lean my way
or remember me,
that was the river's song,
my heart would quiver
and you'd make me happy
and the gazelle in the hills
would find its way…
but Fatima was only a song
released by boats
and dead women on the bridge
in the nights of Rabat.
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