Sunday, August 3, 2008

Poem (devastating)

A Lesson In Drawing

My son places his paint box in front of me

and asks me to draw a bird for him.

Into the color gray I dip the brush

and draw a square with locks and bars.

Astonishment fills his eyes:

"... But this is a prision, Father,

Don't you know, how to draw a bird?"

And I tell him: "Son, forgive me.

I've forgotten the shapes of birds."


My son puts the drawing book in front of me

and asks me to draw a wheatstalk.

I hold the pen

and draw a gun.

My son mocks my ignorance,


"Don't you know, Father, the difference between a

wheatstalk and a gun?"

I tell him, "Son,

once I used to know the shapes of wheatstalks

the shape of the loaf

the shape of the rose

But in this hardened time

the trees of the forest have joined

the militia men

and the rose wears dull fatigues

In this time of armed wheatstalks

armed birds

armed culture

and armed religion

you can't buy a loaf

without finding a gun inside

you can't pluck a rose in the field

without its raising its thorns in your face

you can't buy a book

that doesn't explode between your fingers."


My son sits at the edge of my bed

and asks me to recite a poem,

A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.

My son licks it up, astonished, saying:

"But this is a tear, father, not a poem!"

And I tell him:

"When you grow up, my son,

and read the diwan of Arabic poetry

you'll discover that the word and the tear are twins

and the Arabic poem

is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers."


My son lays down his pens, his crayon box in

front of me

and asks me to draw a homeland for him.

The brush trembles in my hands

and I sink, weeping.

-- Nizar Qabbani


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