Show Us Your Corpse, So We Believe Your Death - Poem by Khaled Juma
Nobody raised me to love you. My mother did not plant virtues of death in her tales. My father did not tell me that men had to die in order to be Men. He said, take the city's distress off her eyes, and she shall love you forever; and at that moment of my death, and in the long time between my stand and my fall, I saw her, with my heart, I saw her, crying and smiling, while calls for prayer arose like a premade ritual.
Before he vanished like a cloud of smoke in the wind, he was afraid. He feared his friends' obvious compliments and heavy words behind his back, when he heard them intently or coincidently. He feared those who justified their failure for not being part of a certain clique. He feared that clique who did not like music. He feared the women who gathered to add a layer to their handcuffs to satisfy the crowd. He was afraid because his mother died, and her prayers stopped. He was afraid of his soul, overloaded by what he saw and heard. He did not want to make a foolery that he did not like in others. He was afraid to hurt a worm he stepped on without seeing. Yet, in the end, he gathered his fear in a sack, and disappeared like a cloud of smoke in the wind.
And there, we were, in a faraway night, arranging our moons in chests improvised of old wood, mating two trees to breed a third fruit, timing our awakening with the Dawn call for prayers, and our sleep with the howling of a wolf that has become friendly after it was familiar. There, we were, inventing water wells whenever we thirsted, and fitting bread in the tale whenever we hungered. Only today, we found out how empty our wooden chests were, and how vacant our tales were, of pearls, bread, and princesses….
and of narrators, too.
Next time, when you die, do not make the mistake itself. Do tell us for whom you'll leave the musical instrument, who will have your brown jacket made of leather and songs, and show us your corpse so we believe your death. Do not do all that you've done in your first death, and leave us in a naïve guessing game.
Translated from Arabic by Nida Awine
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