[Dareen Tatour is a Palestinian poet, photographer and activist from Nazareth. Early on the morning of October 11th, 2015, she was arrested and charged with incitement to violence and supporting a terrorist organization for a series of Facebook posts, including a poem entitled “Resist, My People, Resist Them.” Under house arrest since January 2016, she faces an ongoing and increasingly absurd trial that has seen prosecutor Alina Hardak call literary professors to the stand in an unsuccessful attempt to deny that Tatour is a poet, rely on inexpert translations of the poem into Hebrew to warp the word shahid (martyr) into terrorist, and prolong the case month after month with no conclusion in sight. Several of her poems were included in the recent anthology A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry, out now from Smokestack Books.]
A Female Cry
O my life, nestled in the heart of paper
Our sorrows have slammed shut the door of hope
Their ghosts embracing our color
Until we appeared like them
The ink in poems of worry.
Look at them, how they sink their teeth
In my side
Wolfing down my blossoms and sweet scents.
They killed my spring in its entirety
Stole my very life from the world
Unleashed the season of sleeplessness.
O my life, I have grown tired.
Let me depart to live out my life
Secluded forever in the silence of my land
Let me, for I cannot overpower them
Charged as they are by rays of daylight and twilight alike
My chains won’t be broken by you, O Fate,
While the trees of my oppression go unwatered by hope
I will go on living by withdrawing inwards
I feed off the fires of time, and burn up
So long as I am imprisoned by silence
So long as I am occupied by sadness.
How long have I lived on the ground of hope
Beset by the flowers of life
I water them from the spring of struggle
Raise them up through the resolve of youth
I play… sing for existence itself,
Look forward to the birth of peace.
I reveal every light with my eyes
Yet these sorrows, O life of mine,
Follow me like my own name in the heart of this place
O my silent letters in the drowning sea:
Let me struggle on in nothingness
Alone with these sorrows, with tears of regret
I will always be inhabited by pain
As long as I accept being silenced.
O my dream, kidnapped from my younger years
Silence has ravaged us
Our tears have become a sea
Our patience has bored of us
Together, we rise up for sure
Whatever it was we wanted to be.
So let’s go
Raise up a cry
In the face of those shadowy ghosts.
For how long, O fire within,
Will you scorch my breast with tears?
And how long, O scream,
Will you remain in the hearts of women!
[Translated from the Arabic by Andrew Leber]