Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Water be a String to my Guitar

Water, be a string to my guitar. The new conquerors have arrived
and the old ones have gone. It’s difficult to remember my face
in mirrors. Be my memory that I may see what I lost…
Who am I after this exodus? I have a rock
that carries my name over hills that overlook what has come
and gone…seven hundred years guide my funeral behind the city walls…
and in vain time circles to save my past from a moment
that gives birth to the history of exile in me…and in others…
Water, be a string to my guitar, the new conquerors have arrived
and the old ones have gone south as nations who renovate their days
in the rubble of transformation: I know who I was yesterday, so what
will I become tomorrow under the Atlantic banners of Columbus? Be a string,
water, be a string to my guitar. There is no Egypt in Egypt, no
Fez in Fez, and Syria is distant. And no hawk
in my kin’s banner, no river east of the palm trees besieged
by quick Mongol horses. In which Andalus will I end? Right here
or over there? I will know that I perished here and left my best
behind me: my past. Nothing remains for me except my guitar,
O water, be a string to my guitar. The conquerors have gone
and the conquerors have come…

Mahmoud Darwish

translation: Fady Joudah
excerpted from If I Were Another;
Farrar, Straus, and Grioux, 2009