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Tawfiq Zayyad

(1929 –1994)

The Impossible


It would be a thousand times easier for you
to lead an elephant through the eye of a needle
to catch fried fish on scorched earth
to plough the seas
to make crocodiles talk
it would be a thousand times easier
than to extinguish, through persecution
a glimmering thought
of the way we have chosen

As though we were twenty impossibilities
in Al-Lid, Ar-Ramla, and Galilee
we rest on your chest like a wall
we hurt your throat
like splinters of glass, like Indian figs
and we blind your eyes
like an inferno of flames.
Here we rest on your chest like a wall.
We are washing dishes in the restaurants
and fill glasses, for the masters
we clean tiles in black kitchens
and thus we snatch the bread for the little ones
from your blue teeth accustomed to robbery
Here, on your chest we persist,
We'll stay here, a hard wall on your chest
starved, naked
defiant
chanting poems
and filling the angry streets with demonstrations
the prisons with pride
We turn our children into a generation
which carries on our hate, redoubling it
as though we were twenty impossibilities,
in Al-Lid, Ar-Ramla, and Galilee.
Here we shall stay
You may drink the sea
But we'll tend gladly
the olive tree's and fig tree's shade
and plant the thoughts like yeast into the dough

Coldness of ice in our nerves
and glowing fire in our hearts
thus, plagued by thirst
we squeeze the rocks
and our hunger do we still
with earth
We don't give way
We are not miserly with precious blood
Here is our past
here, presence and the future
As though we were twenty impossibilities
in Al-Lid, Ar-Ramla, and Galilee
take hold! you, living roots
and deeply penetrate the ground!
For the pursuer it is worth the trouble
to take a look at the accounts made up
before it is impossible to stop the wheel
For every action, a reaction
read what the Book says
As though we were twenty impossibilities
in Al-Lid, Ar-Ramla, and Galilee

Submitted: Saturday, October 12, 2013
Edited: Thursday, October 31, 2013

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