Life There

There she buried
her child, and waited
to lie beside him for years.
When finally
they lowered her down
into that soil,
She was only one day old
while he was already
an old man.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
Translated from the Arabic by Sargon Boulus

Night Visit

         They were telling their children about
the guardian angel of plants;
about a nightingale that had flown there at dawn
to sing in the mulberry tree above their window.
         They were telling them about the grapes
they would sell to buy new clothes.
About the special surprise the children
would find under their pillows at bedtime.
But some soldiers arrived,
stopped their stories,
leaving red splashes on the walls
         as they departed.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
Translated from the Arabic by Anne Fairbairn

Threshold

         He was dead
but he could feel their fingers on his forehead.
They laid his body in the centre of the house
on a bed they had hired,
like the one he should have bought.
         They dressed him
in clothes like those he had seen in city shops.
When they carried him out to be buried,
he left something strange on the threshold.
After that, whenever they entered the house
they shivered without knowing why.

— Wadih Sa’adeh
Translated from the Arabic by Anne Fairbairn

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