|by Mahmoud Darwish|
translated by Carolyn Forché and Munir Akash
I belong there. I have many memories. I was born as everyone is born.
I have a mother, a house with many windows, brothers, friends, and a prison cell
with a chilly window! I have a wave snatched by seagulls, a panorama of my own.
I have a saturated meadow. In the deep horizon of my word, I have a moon,
a bird's sustenance, and an immortal olive tree.
I have lived on the land long before swords turned man into prey.
I belong there. When heaven mourns for her mother, I return heaven to
And I cry so that a returning cloud might carry my tears.
To break the rules, I have learned all the words needed for a trial by blood.
I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them a
single word: Home.
rom Unfortunately, It Was Paradise by Mahmoud Darwish translated and Edited by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forché with Sinan Antoon and Amira El-Zein. Copyright © 2003 by the Regents of the University of California.
Okay, I'm cheating on this one. It would take a lot of patience, digging, and direct instruction for my kids to get into this poem. But I love it. I feel like this would be one of those poems that I read aloud and get blank stares from all of the kids and then groans when I start pontificating about the power of words.
It really is a beautiful poem about what home means, and what it means to belong to a place, and to the memories you have there. Having just left my childhood home in St. Louis and coming back to my (grown-up?) home in Austin, it's a subject really on my mind.