My Way is Not Your Way
by Faleh Abdul Rahman
(My verses, no matter how much I stretch them, make them longer, stop then start once again; all my doubtful questions and ideas which challenge each other in the heads and in the hands are but persons that are part of an ancient tragedy which will not conquer the hero…Forward it pushes him (a conscious hero) till the great end. FALEH)
For the sad people there is a small question,
For those who as they march forget to cry
They mix the salt of the bitter tears with the
Winds of defeat,
Also for those who in coffee houses, daydream:
“How long…?” Then I fall silent.
I do not want
To be drawn into speaking
Words said, with love-perhaps-with sympathy,
All of them, words that are being uttered
All of them, words that do not lead to a hill
at which the eyes of a mother stare with fear
as she shouts at you: WHY?
Why the cross?
“About death..”
About death we cannot talk;
There are so many ways that lead to death
that lead to acceptance or to refusal
(of death–so that the battle will not be lost)
I shall ask myself: and what..
My dear, you say
I shall gather my arms to refuse not death
But your way
I shall put on the appearance of those who know,
Because I want to live.
(The June of Paris..its works are being forced
to retreat
And amongst the final rubbles, where one halts at last
there the tears of defeat rise up, so violently,
so bitterly.
And the workers of Madrid behind their barricades
Many of them fall
in order that those who would still survive
will be able to declare:
“We will not allow them to pass here”
It is in the air as well–
For whom my friend, for whom this echo still vibrates.
I shall say in my theatrical sincerity:
There are two alternatives for this discourse:
My way is not your way
(here I do not say exactly, my friend)
For I doubt very much
That the woman who stood on a hill and wept
Received any answer
(because the only one who used to know–died)**
And I laugh:
(I would have drunk enough)
And I laugh, then I say–as a last solution:
“A new Messiah will come”
(I have read–I say):
“He will come, but he will not carry a cross
He will carry a bottle of oil
And put fire out of it in all the buildings
Those buildings with glass that feed
the illusions of our dreams.
He will put fire in all the banks,
Then he will sit down after the fire is finished
Near the sad men
And will nudge them joyfully
And he will laugh and laugh and laugh
Till the tears start falling down”
I would feel I have gone a bit far
(I shall start counting how much I have drank)
And I fall silent
I decide–my way is not your way–
I shall be silent
Will be silent
So silent
Up till the very end.
Then I shall say: because you
Know more than he does
Because you read–you know many things
About sorrow, about death, about love–
Can you forgive?
Translated from Arabic by Kamal Boulatta