A Graphic 1994
All this wasn’t intended
amid the suspicion
when we descended,
with merchants and dead and survivors and memorizers and divers
and wily characters of the night,
on some winding dirt paths.
The lightning that lit up the hills
sketched bending ghosts
and heads of anxious animals
The glass windows let the night flow into rooms
where now some other people breathe,
watch the belongings of strangers in silence
and remember their absence.
The dead who were late to start their walking
haven’t arrived yet,
the carriages also,
as we were descending
while in the slopes children called out to their parents
in village accents.
A Graphic 1995
The endings are not ours
Endings belong to strangers
who weren’t born on wagons,
people we find in the dust of corridors
and who happen in speech
people who are born from shadows
and unravelling mats.
And while we were plowing
they were laughing
and filling our pockets with dirt.
Ghassan Zaqtan, Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems. Translated by Fady Joudah. Yale University Press, 2012. Published online for Contour Biennale 8 online journal Hearings with kind permission of the author.