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Mahmoud Abu Hashhash

Your body, Nicole, is the safest place in the city night.

I saw you putting your camera in the long mouth of the tank,

taking a photo of that deep cylinder of darkness.

I find you outside, walking around your small rented house.

Ten steps away is the cemetery and a bullet could be that close.

You lift a small recorder up,

Tracking the sound of gunfire.

Whenever I visit you on such a night,

I rush through your door.

I go to the windows to close them, and let down the shutters before I take refuge

In your body

And I wonder, how can you stand it?!!

Mixed media by SABRINA
Oct 11, 2001, at Orly Airport, Paris

He was dragged from his name, from his colour, from the darkness of his hair,

to the waiting room.

His suitcase circled lonely on the luggage belt.

It was full of secrets and gifts,

finishing old promises,

His blonde woman was no longer waiting for him,

not weaving by day nor unraveling by night.

The blue waves of embroidery on his motherís dress were moving around on the belt.

She only wore it once or twice.

Far away,

A bit earlier,

Two long intifadas passed on her middle-aged face leaving it too old for the roses of that dress.

His blonde woman was dreaming of it since loveís first night

Until they met again

She will put it on happily, "Oh my Palestinian dress embroidered with blue silk."

She will throw the shawl on her shoulders

And with her high heels

dance in the north

While my mother goes to every house of mourning

In her black dress.

The sea lost

This night is pregnant, about to give birth to bombardment.

This evening I bought a second-hand chaise lounge and a small table of the same reeds.

I thought that chair would be good for the balcony.

For a long time I did not sit on the balcony,

Not for months, and for fifteen years, I did not see the sea,

The sea we lost in war.

The settlement on the nearby hill makes the glass of my balcony fragile, dangerous.

But tonight and with such a moon, I am obsessed with sitting here, resuming an old habit and an

old time,

The new chaise lounge a good excuse!

First window

First window

I went up in flames

But the wall did not tumble

It was long, long enough to circle the city

Since the beginning of time

I am a neglected stone

In that wall

Stared at by people and birds

Filled by windblown fire

Burned to vanish

Blazed to void.

The wall never tumbles

But I became

A window for the curious

And a new hole through which

The unseen

Is glimpsed

Translated from the Arabic by Kifah Fanni


Mahmoud Abu Hashhash is of the younger generation of Palestinian poets
and works with the A.M. Qattan Foundation. He is best known for
Waj al-Zujaj (The Pain of Glass) and lives in the West Bank