Highlights from Unfortunately, It Was Paradise

Here or there, our blood will plant olive trees.

Ours is a country of words: Talk. Talk.

I ask: Is it true, good ladies and gentlemen, that the earth of Man is for all human beings as you say? In that case, where is my little cottage, and where am I?

Can a people be born on a guillotine? We have the right to die any way we wish.

In this hymn we lay a dream, we raise a victory sign, we hold a key to the last door, to lock ourselves in a dream.

I gaze upon trees guarding the night from the night and the sleep of those who would wish me death.

The stars had only one task: they taught me how to read. They taught me I had a language in heaven and another language on earth.

I will come out of these walls a free man, like a ghost when he floats freely out of himself. I will go to Aleppo. Dove, fly with my Byzantine ode to my kinsman, and take him this greeting of dew.

Who am I after your two almond eyes? the male stranger asks. Who am I after your exile in me? the female stranger asks.

Every time she hits a certain note, her jinn casts its spell on us. And we are transported to another time.

Nothing causes us pain— not the final parting of the doves nor the cold in our hands nor the wind around the church.

Do not glance at the twin partridges sleeping on her chest.

I saw three of my friends crying, sewing my burial shroud with golden threads.

I was born in spring to keep the orators from endlessly speaking about this heartbreaking country, about the immortality of fig and olive trees in the face of time and its armies.

Homeland for him, he tells me, is to drink my mother’s coffee, to return at nightfall.

He used to arrive like a sword dipped in wine, and leave like the end of a prayer.

And I died, I died utterly. How tranquil and peaceful is death without your crying? How tranquil and peaceful is death without your hands pounding on my chest to bring me back? Before and after death I loved you, and between I saw nothing but my mother’s face.

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