He Knew Not - Poem by Khaled Juma
He knew not that for a century past he has been walking in a wrong direction, lest for the star that fell before him, carrying the south in her light, and hooks of sadness in its gradual perishing. He knew not that he was the one to dictate the trees their spells, and the little girls their ability to fool lovers with kohl and gallant timidity.
He left not a direction where he did not pass, thus all directions were lost, and the years imbalanced in his journey. The dessert filled with thick grass when he left it behind, and rivers dried like an old unremembered tale, even the sun he placed with his hand, there, outside the window, wilted like skin in the salt of sea. He waited to salvage his dead lovers from claws of sand, and times became a market open to cities, cities became vacancies and obsession in a poem, yet, he knew not…
He dyed his path with doves, he watched them pick the mud for worms, he taught their little ones to fly, and ascertained their nests every night before he began his long prayer. He knew not that when he passed, exhausted, no bird or tree would recognize him, not cloud that he helped rise would recognize him, and that wheat spikes would not know him after he'd protected them from the wind. He shall be lighter than his shadow, and his shadow, too, shall deny him.
He knew not that the world would turn from water to words.
Translated from Arabic by Nida Awine
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