[Today marks the fifth anniversary of Mahmoud Darwish’s death.]
Iraq’s Night is Long
[For Saadi Youssef]
Iraq, Iraq is blood the sun cannot dry
The sun is God’s widow above Iraq
The murdered Iraqi says to those standing at the bridge:
Good Morning, I am still alive.
They say: You are still a dead man searching for his grave
in the corners of cooing
Iraq, Iraq . . . Iraq’s night is long
Dawn breaks only to the murdered
praying half a prayer and never finishing a greeting to anyone
For the Mongols are coming
from the gate of the Caliph’s palace
at the river’s shoulder
The river runs south and carries our dead who stay up,
carries them to the palm trees’ relatives.
Iraq, Iraq is cemeteries that are open, like schools,
Armenian, Turkmen, and Arab. We are all equal in eschatology
There must be a poet who wonders:
Baghdad; How many times will you disappoint myths?
How many times will you make statues for tomorrow?
How many times will you seek to marry the impossible?
Iraq, Iraq, here prophets stand
unable to utter the sky’s name
Who is killing whom in Iraq now?
Victims are shards on the roads and in words
Their names, like their bodies, are bits of disfigured letters
Here prophets stand together unable to utter
the sky’s name and the name of the murdered
Iraq, Iraq. So who are you in the presence of suicide?
I am not I in Iraq. Nor are you you
He is none but another
God has abandoned the perplexed, so who are we?
Who are we? We are nothing but a predicate in the poem:
Iraq’s night is long
[Translated from the Arabic by Sinan Antoon from Athar al-Farasha (Beirut: Riyad El-Rayyes, 2008)]