Mahmoud Darwish

13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008 / Palestinian

The Exiles Don'T Look Back… -

The exiles don't look back when leaving
one place of exile - for more exile
lies ahead, they've become familiar
with the circular road, nothing to the front
or to the rear, no north or south.
They emigrate from the fence to the garden,
leaving behind a will with each step across the yard
of the house:
'After we're gone, remember only this life.'
They travel from the soft silk of morning to midday dust,
bearing a coffin filled with artifacts of absence:
an identity card and a letter to one beloved, address unknown:
'After we're gone, remember only this life.'
With a wounded gesture of victory
they journey from the house to the street,
telling those who see them:
'We're still alive, so remove us from memory.'
They emerge from their story to breathe and to bask
in the sun, think of flying higher…
and higher. They rise and fall. They come and go.
They jump from an ancient ceramic tile to a star.
And they come back to a story…
there's no end to the beginning.
They flee from somnolence to an angel of sleep,
pale and red-eyed from thinking of the blood
that's been shed:
'After we're gone, remember only this life…'
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