What Would I Tell You If I Were There? Poem by Khaled Juma

What Would I Tell You If I Were There?

Rating: 5.0

To the boy abandoned at the edge of a homeland abandoned at the edge of a boy

What would I tell you if I were there?
You scream with two legs folded underneath you, blood streaming from a place in your body I do not know, I feel horror sneaking into your tender soul, as they are about to attack you, not only with words, but with a Talmudic history mobilized like a war machine aged a million years. In every one of their pockets is a Torah, in every one of their eyes is a gun and in every one of their hands is a heart, afraid of a twelve-year-old boy, abandoned on the roadside. Were you an easy hunt? Even in jungles, predators sometimes hesitate to hunt a little one when they're hungry, they smell the milk off the newborn's lip and turn back, perhaps, they transcend from preying on a little defenseless child who cannot even escape. However, they all were there, and the others wished to be there, so they sent their thoughts instead.

What would I tell you if I were there?
If I were a ghost folded in the air, if I could reach your heart beating as fast as bees' wings, I am certain that I would not have said you were a hero, or that you had to face them with your weakness, your bleeding and your unheard cries. You were alone, as we all were when we watched you; our mouths open, our hearts hung up on the next step, looking at the colors of your clothes and wishing you would stretch your legs and feel a little less tired. I would whisper something a little reassuring; but what would reassure a scared abandoned child lying on his back, bleeding from an unknown part of his body and surrounded by a group of Israeli settlers?

What would I tell you if I were there?
Would I have said that my heart is with you? This is not true; my heart is with me. Would I have told you a story like those were the good conquers evil? Would you have believed that the boy-hero could still win over the monster, when the monster has become so many surrounding the airspace around you? What would I have said while knotting on your umbilical cord my helplessness, my inability to say anything that would clear the air around you and make you a little less terrified?

What would I tell you if I were there?
Would I tell you that we are broken before you? That we could not teach you the difference between life and death? Or that we did not raise you on the truth of a homeland; that is living while feeling safe, in your mother's arms or in the arms of a tree that looks like her?

What would I tell you if I were there?
Would I throw you a book and a pen to write about your dreams a few years from now? About a girl you'll run into one day, and save her from an atrocity of a by passer? She'll love you a little, and then a lot, and then at a warm moment she'll see your wound and ask about it. You would have thought you had forgotten. You would start telling the story and the horror will come back from the door of your memory, you would tremble while reliving the words on your body like lashes of a bullwhip. You would not know if she would understand your childhood's pain, and whether she'll console you or call you a coward because she believes men do not cry.

What would I tell you if I were there?
I would not say a thing, and anyway, I was not there, and neither was anyone else.

Translated from Arabic by Nida Awine

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Topic(s) of this poem: helplessness,injustice,occupying,pain,terrorism
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