Two Poems by Nayrouz Abu Hatoum
With dreamy eyes,
you hosted my gaze and your lips…
a well intensifies my thrust.
I wrote you into a poem
because this is how
I learned to host love
now, I am left to grieve
twice the weight of loss.
Our eyes traced each other, and gazed through the shades of fig trees, which we knew, a long time ago,
used to mark borders, in lands where rivers dare to dry. You found me in a foreign city, then took me
to my home, with your hesitations and fresh heart
you walked me to my past,
then demanded without words to love the most shy wheat of your body/earth.
When metaphors of kissing
exceeded our capacities to breathe
we fell asleep,
this time holding on
to our disowned togetherness.
Don’t let my silence mislead you,
I didn’t leave to let the stars
dictate my sleep, I left to find my pride
left yesterday in my bed sheets.
as you collect words to decorate my evening with stories from your home, I ache a loss I never met; you stretch a bridge between me and your village, I never met: we grew okra on the last thread of land hidden from the occupier’s hand, we ate from a round silver moon placed at the center of our humble universe; reached the moon, each with generous hands; we sat on the floor, to glorify the land. You farm the night with seeds of fear and thirst intensifying a longing for our burdened homeland; with half-sad eyes you say: despite exile, tyranny, deprivation, there is no other land to contain our love for a loss we still grieve.
I return to scent
collect particles of innocence,
I was fully present, in the moment,
you were there…
You wore the moon’s shadow,
fearing my past ash,
accumulated on my heart’s wall.
I was breathing all the dust
we left in corners we used
Then, built stories from mud bricks,
and prayed rain won’t fall,
I forgot I had left the desert;
here, it rains to welcome
Homage to Mahmoud Darwish on a sad morning
I wake up to an unfinished poem
you wrote in my sleep,
like you, I love coffee’s taste of exile,
first kiss in the morning,
like you, I search for love between the wounds of an old wrinkled day.
like you, I have a complicated relationship to the a priori pain of nationalism…
like you, I declare what I share with you:
my desperate hopes that one day poetry
will be the homeland I abandoned;
or the love that I failed to water, because in the desert of emotions,
everything is bitter and dry…
like you I see myself mirrored, in front of me,
and I see, how I do not resemble myself.
The poet in you, that is you…in your death, and before your death,
is a homeland by itself, and a national anthem
echoes the sky with praise:
“we have on this earth what makes life worth living”.
Nayrouz Abu Hatoum has a Doctoral degree in Anthropology from York University. She has a passion for poetry and is an emerging writer and academic. She translated multiple academic research projects as well as a few poems for online publications. She has also published several Arabic and English articles, some of which could be read in Al-Akhbar newspaper in Arabic and in Sawt Al Niswa and Jadaliyya in English. She is a member of the Arabic-English translation collective, Dalaala (www.dalaala.com).
by Trish Salah