Mahmoud Darwish

13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008 / Palestinian

The Owl's Night

Here is a present that yesterday doesn't touch...
When we reached
the last of the trees we noticed that we
were no longer able to notice. When
we looked at the trucks. We saw absence
heaping up its selected things and pitching
its eternal tent around us...
Here is a present
that yesterday doesn't touch
Silk thread slips between the mulberrry trees
letters on the nights's notebook. Only
butterflies light our boldness
descending to the hollow of strange words:
Was this difficult man my father?
Perhaps I'll look after myself here. Perhaps
I'll give birth, now, to myself, with myself
and choose for my name vertical letters...
Here is a present
sitting in time's emptiness, staring
at the trace of those who pas on the river's reeds
polishing their flutes with wind...Perhpas speech
will become transparent, so we'll see windows in it, open
Perhaps time will hurry, with us
carrying our tomorrow in its luggage...
Here is a present
without time
No one here found anyone who remembered
how we left the door, a gust of wind. Or anyone who remembered
when we fell off yesterday. Yesterday
shattered ove rth floor, shrapnel gathered together
by others, like mirrors for the image, after us...
Here is a present
without place
Perhaps I'll look after myself and scream at
the owl's night: Was that difficult man
my father, who would have me carry the burden of his history?
Perhpas I'll transform within my name and choose
my mother's words and habits as it should
be: She'll be able to joke with me
whenever salt touches my blood. She'll be able
to comfort me whenever a nightingale bites my mouth!
Here is a present
Here strangers hung their guns on
the branches of an olive tree, prepared dinner
quickly from tin cans, and left
quickly for their trucks...

Translated by Jeffrey Sacks
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