Friday, May 1, 2009

after the last sky...


The Earth is closing on us
pushing us through the last passage
and we tear off our limbs to pass through.
The Earth is squeezing us.
I wish we were its wheat
so we could die and live again.
I wish the Earth was our mother
so she'd be kind to us.

I wish we were pictures on the rocks
for our dreams to carry as mirrors.
We saw the faces of those who will throw
our children out of the window of this last space.
Our star will hang up mirrors.
Where should we go after the last frontiers?
Where should the birds fly after the last sky?
Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air?
We will write our names with scarlet steam.
We will cut off the hand of the song to be finished by our flesh.
We will die here, here in the last passage.
Here and here our blood will plant its olive tree.

Mahmoud Darwish, The Earth Is Closing on Us, translated by Abdullah al-Udhari, in Victims of a Map (London: al-Saqi Books, 1984), p. 13.

[note: i'm pretty sure i read and transcribed this poem from Salman Rushdie's Step Across This Line, as i was reading it in Kayes, but i could be wrong. in any event, the poem and citation above are from Mehbooba Poems & Poetry.]


  1. this is important, like my note on looking up edward said is important... to document when i first heard or read about these two men and their work.

    they would stay with me for a while... resurfacing again when i delved deeper into their writings, and when i used their thoughts/words as guides in my graduate school work.

    it's interesting to note that i found these cultural guide-posts in mali... or perhaps they found me in mali. at a time of deep personal (and cross-cultural) anxiety for me.

    blessed how things like that appear when we need them. funny how we don't even realize they're there... or how important they are.

    please keep them coming.

    salaam :)

  2. i should've added salman rushdie to the two names (darwish and said) above, as another guide-post. i appreciate him and his work.

    mohamad :)

  3. IMAGE: by the way... this is a watercolor attributed to a student at one of the UNRWA schools in Damascus, Syria.

    i came across the painting while working for UNDP in damascus. it one a prize for a children's art contest we held on environmental themes.

    it's striking, to say the least. that's why it stuck with me. i also think it fits this poem perfectly.

    my only issue is – at the risk of sounding cynical – that i have a hard time believing that a grade-schooler painted this.