Sargon Boulus

(1944-2007 / Iraq)

Who knows the story

The century is almost over;
How did it start, when will it end,
against whom is this battle being waged?
Since it began: From the first chapter. Before speech.
Those who stayed behind,
read the writing on the wall.
He who migrated, never found the promised land.
Speak, what will you say?
Or don't speak, and just listen.
Listen to any voice that may reach you.
Toss your old key into the ocean
as long as: no lock, neither a door, nor a house.
Visit our forsaken land sometimes.
The magic ring you covet is to be found there.
The woman you sought after, to no avail,
for so long, awaits you there, now

Open your hands. Auction off your heart. And hear the story.
The day is coming; countless are the signs.
The people ask for bread. The tyrant sees a dream
that defies interpretation.
The peddler of fatwas, purple-clothed
with the blood of sacrifice,
rips through the luxurious fabric of your dreams
with a dagger of righteousness
beating his little tabla all through the night
between your ears - his ultimate joy:
that you never sleep.
The deadlier your migraines, the higher he soars.
It is a world clouded with mysteries.
Mysteries are embedded in words, but
what they tell is only one part of the story.
The audience believed it.
The judge was suspicious of the details.
The scientist thought it was a dance:
between particles and monkeys and trees.
Between the seed, the ant, and Mars
and the galaxies whose giant arms
embrace a cloud of dust.
Don't speak; what will you say.
Or speak, and listen
to whoever comes along.
The Chinese poet
dead more than a thousand
years ago, whispers in my ear;
'From this high tower,
I am startled to see
how ferocious is the storm.
The walled city looks empty
when the leaves fall.'
Li Dong
Maybe it's the wind, Master Li Dong,
reciting the story of the flood once more.

My tribe knows it well.
It knows its master and narrator.
It knows its heroes, those windmill shadows
Don Quixote fought valiantly
once upon a time: today
the coughing of a sick child
without medicine behind the walls
of siege, is enough to make it fall.
My tribe. This page. This pen. This wall.
It is the sap, Master. The sap rising
in the trunk of life and the tree.
No. It is the sea of silence, and this
tiny boat has a story.
My friend who died yesterday in exile
battling his final pain,
knew the story from beginning to end
in a single moment of yearning.
Let the current take what it wants.
Let me remain in my place.
Give me this single moment, and let me be:
I want to hear the story.

Translated by the author

Submitted: Thursday, November 14, 2013

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