The Online Journal of Contour biennale

November 4 2016

A Graphic 1994 & A Graphic 1995

By Ghassan Zaqtan

A Graphic 1994

All this wasn’t intended

wasn’t clear

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



and above.


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

shaking hands


while in the slopes children called out to their parents

in village accents.


All this

wasn’t intended,



A Graphic 1995

The endings are not ours

not anyone’s.


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.

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A Graphic 1994 & A Graphic 1995

By Ghassan Zaqtan