I borrowed from the ancient pine tree a cloud
and squeezed it like an orange, then waited for a gazelle
white and legendary. And I ordered my heart to be patient:
Be neutral as if you were not of me! Right here
the kind shepherds stood on air and evolved
their flutes, then persuaded the mountain quail toward
the snare. And right here I saddled a horse for flying toward
my planets, then flew. And right here the priestess
told me: Beware of the asphalt road and the cars
and walk upon your exhalation. Right here
I slackened my shadow and waited, I picked the tiniest
rock and stayed up late. I broke the myth and I broke.
And I circled the well until I flew from myself
to what isn't of it. A deep voice shouted at me:
This grave isn't your grave. So I apologized.
I read verses from the wise holy book, and said
to the unknown one in the well: Salaam upon you the day
you were killed in the land of peace, and the day you rise
from the darkness of the well alive!
By Mahmoud Darwish
Translated by Fady Joudah
From The Butterfly's Burden (2007) by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Fady Joudah, published by Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2007 by Mahmoud Darwish. Translation and preface copyright © 2007 by Fady Joudah. Used with permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.