Mahmoud Darwish

13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008 / Palestinian

If I Were Someone Else On The Road...

If I were someone else on the road I wouldn't
have looked back - I'd have said what a man traveling
on the road says to a traveling woman: Greetings, stranger,
wake up your guitar, let's postpone tomorrow so the road
will open up and be more spacious and together
we'll escape from our story: How it is you are you
and I'm someone else here before you.
If I were someone else on the road I'd belong
to this road, there'd be no going back for me
or for you. Wake up your guitar so we can probe
the unknown and the direction that seduces
the traveler into a test of gravity. I'm no more
than the steps I'm taking and you are my compass
and my abyss combined. If I were someone else
I would have hid these emotions in a suitcase
and my poem would be liquid and white, transparent,
abstract and light, more durable than memory
and more fragile than dew, and I would be saying:
This expanse is my identity.
If I were someone else on the road I would have
said to the guitar: School me on the extra string,
for home is now further away and the road to it
more beautiful - that's what my new song will say -
the longer the road the more meaning is refreshed
and I become two on this road, myself and
someone else…
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