For Damascus Poem by Ghayath Almadhoun

For Damascus

It is killing me, this summer that is seeping
through the fissures of Damascus, I crawl like rust
on the doors of this prison that turned
into a museum. It is I, who sits
afraid and shy in a café on days when money
is scarce, and laughs at the top of my voice
on days when cunning pockets are full. Damascus
is my cracked home, and
Kasyon is what I mourn. I spread
in the evening like horns of cars
and carts of broad beans, I am known
to foreigners and tourists. I have no fence, any
happiness that has betrayed my face
came back apologising from my laughter. I
am the strange mixture that reigns
in the sky of the poor and the clothing of
shopfront windows. My body is fields of burning
grains of wheat, my tongue scolds
like a shoe. The police officer, the teacher
and the mysterious man stare at me, so I sadly
laugh, and they laughingly cry. Damascus
is mine, and I will not allow anyone
to share my bed, other than the wicked
and the prostitutes. I am the descending ladder
to pits set up high, and the traces of thieves
on the sand. My body is a hotel
for those departing. My words are little gospels
lost by prophets, so those astray adopted
them. Therefore I will throw the crumbs
to the barbed wire birds, and I will castrate
glory on the bitumen. This is what they taught us
in public schools, then
they released us like rabbits to chew the grass
of submission. I said to you that I will not
allow anyone to sneak in and watch Damascus as
she bathes alone, her small
breasts timidly uncovered, I will not allow you……….

Translated by Zeina Issa

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