Mahmoud Darwish

13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008 / Palestinian

To My End And To Its End...

-Are you tired of walking
my son, are you getting tired?
-Yes, father
Your night has grown long on the road
and your heart has flowed over your night's earth
-You're still as lithe as a cat
so climb up on my shoulders
In a little while we'll cross
the forest of terebinth and oak
This is the northern Galilee
Lebanon is behind us
The sky is ours, all of it, from Damascus
to the beautiful wall fo Acre
-And then what?
-We'll return to the house
Do you know the way, my son?
-Yes, father:
East of the carob tree on the main street there's
a small path crowded by cactus
at its opening. Then it leads, wider and wider,
to the well where it looks out
on the orchard of my uncle Jamil
who sells tobacco and sweets
Then it gets lost on a treshing floor before
it straightens out and settles in at home
in the shape of a parrot
-Do you know the house, my son?
-I know it like I know the path:
Jasmine winds around an iron gate
Footprints of light on the stone stairs
Sunflowers stare at what lies behind the place
Friendly bees prepare breakfast for my grandfather
on a reed tray
In the yard there's a well and a willow tree and a horse
Behind the fence, a tomorrow, thumbing through our papers...
-Oh father, are you getting tired?
Do I see sweat in your eyes?
-My son, I am tired... Can you carry me?
-Like you used to carry me, father
I'll carry this longing
my beginning
and its beginning
I'll follow this road to
my end... and to its end!

Translated by Jeffrey Sacks
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