You read the words of Mahmoud Darwish,
his nostalgia, revolution and melancholia swirl the desert dust over times and places
to reach your eye.
Yes, I swear. This is how the tear settled on my dry cheek.
And Nizar Qabbani whose eroticism, love and poetic (but also political) fight for social justice make you tingle and long for something.
You don’t know what it is you seek or long for
something that the poem will never make tangible.
You let the words and language sink in
You notice how smoothly your eyes glide across the Arabic calligraphy on the yellowed pages
How much easier internalizing their words and worlds is getting
You sense the physical and metaphysical barriers dissolving
Barriers of your many selves.
The displaced and the disowned,
or like Edward Said, those “out of place.”
The one that claims she’s home,
but will always have a soft spot for a man who speaks in her tongue.
Tongues intertwine as the barrier gradually shifts
What put it there? How and when did it come into being? Who let it? Who is to blame?
The blame game makes it easier.
You think, dream, make love and write in another’s tongue
Some would say a colonizer’s tongue.
Yours is shackled by a barbed wire,
the same one endlessly running through Palestine, Syria and Iraq.
Is it a barbed wire, or streaks of crimson blood interlaced with dirt left behind from the last missile?
Or perhaps it’s the red wine you spilt trying to reach for the glass
after a touching poem, or a great orgasm.
But you let it.
You were happy about it at some point of time. To be fluent in many other languages
as yours rots and decays like the slums and streets of Cairo.
A permanent layer of dust, grey ashen dust, seems to have settled on everything
from decayed buildings to jagged streets,
to a man’s once white galabeya,
and most probably to the Coptic woman’s black attire.
You just can’t see it, because black hides it all. Even her son’s blood.
You observe as your chauffeur drives you in the air-conditioned car.
You’re disgusted not at the sudden hyper-awareness of your privilege, but at your privilege itself.
Your privilege and pacifism.
You go back to your book.
You’ll write about this, you think.
You should do something
But will you?
You arrive at the pub downtown.
Your friends already ordered the red wine.