Nizar Qabbani (1923 - 1998 / Damascus / Syria)
Five Letters To My Mother
Good morning sweetheart.
Good morning my Saint of a sweetheart.
It has been two year mother
since the boy has sailed
on his mythical journey.
Since he hid within his luggage
the green morning of his homeland
and her stars, and her streams,
and all of her red poppy.
Since he hid in his cloths
bunches of mint and thyme,
and a Damascene Lilac.
I am alone.
The smoke of my cigarette is bored,
and even my seat of me is bored
My sorrows are like flocking birds looking for a grain field in season.
I became acquainted with the women of Europe,
I became acquainted with their tired civilization.
I toured India, and I toured China,
I toured the entire oriental world,
and nowhere I found,
a Lady to comb my golden hair.
A Lady that hides for me in her purse a sugar candy.
A lady that dresses me when I am naked,
and lifts me up when I fall.
Mother: I am that boy who sailed,
and still longes to that sugar candy.
So how come or how can I, Mother,
become a father and never grow up.
Good morning from Madrid.
How is the 'Fullah'?
I beg you to take care of her,
That baby of a baby.
She was the dearest love to Father.
He spoiled her like his daughter.
He used to invite her to his morning coffee.
He used to feed her and water her,
and cover her with his mercy.
And when he died,
She always dreamt about his return.
She looked for him in the corners of his room.
She asked about his robe,
and asked about his newspaper,
and asked, when the summer came,
about the blue color of his eyes,
so that she can throw within his palms,
her golden coins.
I send my best regards
to a house that taught us love and mercy.
To your white flowers,
the best in the neighborhood.
To my bed, to my books,
to all of the kids in the alley.
To all of these walls we covered
with noise from our writings.
To the lazy cat sleeping on the balcony.
To the lilac climbing bush the neighbor's window.
It has been two long years, Mother,
with the face of Damascus being like a bird,
digging within my conscience,
biting at my curtains,
and picking, with a gentle beak, at my fingers.
It has been two years Mother,
since the nights of Damascus,
the odors of Damascus,
the houses of Damascus,
have been inhabiting our imagination.
The pillar lights of her mosques,
have been guiding our sails.
As if the pillars of the Amawi,
have been planted in our hearts.
As if the orchards are still perfuming our conscience.
As if the lights and the rocks,
have all traveled with us.
This is September, Mother,
and here is sorrow bringing me his wrapped gifts.
Leaving at my window his tears and his concerns.
This is September, where is Damascus?
Where is Father and his eyes.
Where is the silk of his glances,
and where is the aroma of his coffee.
May God bless his grave.
And where is the vastness of our large house,
and where is its comfort.
And where is the stairwell laughing at the tickles of blooms,
and where is my childhood.
Draggling the tail of the cat,
and eating from the grape vine,
and snipping from the lilac.
what a poem we wrote within our eyes.
What a pretty child that we crucified.
We kneeled at her feet,
and we melted in her passion,
until, we killed her with love.
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