Nathalie Handal

1969 / French / Palestinian / American

War

A cup of empty messages in a room of light,
light that blinds & blinded men lined up
the young are unable to die peacefully, I hear a man say.

All is gone: the messy hair of boys, their smile,
the pictures of ancestors, the stories of spirits,
the misty hour before sunrise
when the fig trees await the small hands of a child.

Now the candles have melted
and the bells of the church
no longer ring in Bethlehem.

A continued past of blood,
of jailed cities
confiscated lives
and goodbyes.

How can we bear the images that flood our eyes
and bleed our veins: a dead man, perhaps thirty,
with a tight fist, holding some sugar for morning coffee.

Coffee cups full
left on the table
in a radio station
beside three corpses.

Corpses follow gunmen in their sleep, remind them
that today they have killed a tiny child,
a woman trying to say, "Stop, please."

Please stop the tears, the suitcases, the silence,
the single man holding on to his prayer rug,
holding on to whatever is left of memory
as he grows insane with every passing day…

listen, how many should die before we start counting,
listen, who is listening, there is no one here, there is nothing left,
there is nothing left after war, only other wars.
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