Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|12/31/00 at 21:32:49|
|Letters to Childhood|
Forgive me,my child,
if the name I gave you
is not the name
you would have chosen...
All the children of the world,
in all my abodes
you are the roses in my courtyard,
the green and the fresh,
the sun and the stars,
you are the beautiful hands,
the one who raise the flag of childhood high.
I give my life to you.
To you I write my poems.
translated by Aziz Shihab
|12/31/00 at 21:40:51|
Three girls in the family album.
Good-looking as they knew how to be
Behind them are steps and an unsteady railing.
A flowerpot has been placed at their feet,
at the request of the refined photographer,
for the sake of the composition.
In the righthand corner a circle gleams
in the heart of the tile that,for years,
carried the burden of the flowerpot
with grat courtesy.
Now,bare,it is exposed to its shame
before the camera.
It seems that after the click
no one will bother
to return the pot to its place.
And perhaps that tile carries
the ring of shame on its heart
to this very day.
I would not have committed the modest
memory of that flowerpot to paper
had it not,for a long time,
recurred in my dreams.
The girl in the middle is dressed in black.
In due time she will be my mother.
translated by Judy Levy
|12/31/00 at 21:44:51|
They say in my village
I was born
With one hand placed
Over my heart
The men said
This child will live
With the heart of a prophet
And the women of the tribe
"Rejoice!" they said
Hailing the future lover
But the old men
Were holding back their tears
and keeping calm.
translated by Sargon Boulus and Christopher Middleton
|12/31/00 at 21:53:47|
|My Mother's Wedding Parade|
Still a child,innocent,naive,seventeen.
A good student pulled out of school to wed.
It was arranged,it was final,it was done.
The gown was rented,the whole town paraded.
The brief private talk with the aunt and
the stepmother took place-
very little was learned. Salimeh* was not relaxed.
She shook,she perspired,she cried,
she was a child.
The whole town brought sweets in their Sunday best.
She wept upon leaving her father's modern home
for a humble two-room stone house
to share with her in-laws and a man
she only knew by sight.
She went along, went along,
singing to herself a song of prayers.
The whole town looked on, gossiped,
and the the wedding picture showed a different dress
from the original one-
a wrinkled dress.
My mother was so tall,so beautiful, so strong,
her dress was so long.
*Salimeh-a girl's name.
|12/31/00 at 21:56:52|
Those who come by me passing
I will remember them
and those who come heavy and overbearing
I will forget
when the air erupts between mountains
we always describe the wind
and forget the rocks
translated by Khaled Mattawa
|12/31/00 at 22:03:30|
In the last week of school
There's a camera in class, and smiles
(the teacher's in the center,wearing flowers)
Gideon is next to Yael,
They're a couple.
Ruth's eyes are closed,she's dreaming.
And I'm no in the picture.
I had the measles.
On the last day of school
There's a camera in the yard, and smiles.
(the teacher's next to me,wearing flowers.)
And Gideon and Yael
Are no longer a couple.
Yael closes her eyes, she's dreaming.
Ruth isn't in the picture.
She had the measles.
In the class picture,
In the yard, or in the building,
Someone is always missing.
translated by Nelly Segal
|12/31/00 at 22:05:39|
|A Poem of Bliss|
We are placed on a wedding cake
like the two dolls,bride and groom.
When the knife strikes
we'll try to stay on the same slice.
translated by Yair Mazor
|12/31/00 at 22:09:46|
the oak tree in the backyard
on the planks of wood
you nailed in its side
Soon they will not remember
who spaced them so evenly
Do you feel the weight
of a small foot on your heart,
and when they reach the top
will you grasp their hands
and hoist them up with you?
|12/31/00 at 22:14:11|
Anxious,anxious am I for a homeland,
The windows of my longing are open.
How tired I am of moving around
The walking stick of travel
is nearly broken
So I take refuge in my dreams
I sing my songs
I travel in my imagination
to the shores of my homeland
Oh,how much I long for a homeland.
-Balkis Saleem Zaghal
translated by Aziz Shihab
|12/31/00 at 23:50:25|
Who are these people? ???
|01/01/01 at 11:49:20|
I got these poems from a book called:
The Space Between Our Footsteps
(poems and paintings from the Middle East)
Selected by: Naomi Shihab Nye
|01/01/01 at 11:59:55|
My grandmother wouldn't let us leave rice on our plates.
Instead of telling us about hunger in India
and children with swollen bellies
who would have opened their mouths wide
for each grain,
she would drag all the leftovers to the centers of our plates
with a screeching fork and, nearly in tears,
tell how the uneaten rice would rise to the heavens
to complain to God.
Now she's dead and I imagine the joy of the encounter
between her false teeth and the angels with flaming swords
at the gates of rice paradise.
They spread,beneath her feet, a carpet of red rice
and the yellow rice sun beats down on the lovely garden
of little white grains.
My grandmother spreads olive oil on their skins
and slips them one by one into the cosmic pots
of God's kitchen. Grandma,I feel like telling her,
rice is a seashell that shrunk,and like it
you rose from the sea.
The water of my life.
translated by Vivian Eden
|01/01/01 at 12:13:07|
|In the Mid-Thirties|
In the mid-thirties
my uncle Zelig came from America
and took me and my mother
to a cafe on the beach of Tel Aviv, where
we ate something delightfully sweet.
Long years later I found out
it was the richest ice cream.
A band played, and mother laughed
when my uncle invited her to dance
the tango, as I found out long years later
with a few more facts,
for instance,that my father had been out of work
and the owner of the house where
we rented half a flat
was planning to throw us out
because we had not paid the rent
and those funny people, the Yekkes*,
who came to live in our neighborhood
were running away from Hitler-
we used to sing about him near to a lamp-post:
Hitler came from Germany,
Where can he be found today?
The devils snatched him right away."
Who could have known then
that they didn't take him,
that he would live for ten more years.
I knew nothing of this
and yet I longed to stay there on the beach,
wanted mother to go on dancing, and for me-another ice cream
and that the setting sun would not put on its pink pajamas
and go to sleep on time
translated by the author and Arnold J. Band
*Yekkes-a nickname for jews born in Germany who immigrated to Palestine in the 1930's
|01/01/01 at 12:21:51|
|I Remember My Father's Hands|
because they were large,and square,
fingers chunky,black hair like wire
because they fingered worry beads over and over
(that muted clicking,that constant motion,that secular prayer)
because they ripped bread with quiet purpose,
dipped fresh green oil like a birthright
because after his mother's funeral they raised a tea cup,
set it down untouched,uncontrollably trembling
because when they trimmed hedges,pruned roses,
their tenderness caught my breath with jealousy
because once when I was a child they cupped my face,
dry and warm,flesh full and calloused,for a long moment
because over his wife's still form they faltered
great mute helpless beasts
because when his own lungs filled and sank they reached out
for the first time pleading
because when I look at my hands
his own speak back
-Lisa Suhair Majaj
|01/01/01 at 12:29:05|
|Stone for a Sling|
games with child friends whose names i forgot
i was the best at grabbing the five stones off the ground
thanks to those five stones in one hand
i could never ever hold a sling to kill birds...
then i saw life-size cartoons of wars,of massacred, of genocide...
of fingerprints crying out for their owners...
of human beings indifferent to human affliction...
now in my room with birds from all over the world
i play hide-and-seek in poems
hoping to shed light into lullabies...
hoping not to be
the stone for a sling.
|01/01/01 at 18:49:33|
It so happens I am happy to be a daughter
and it happens that I dance into dinner parties and Arabic concerts
dressed up, polished,like a pearl in
the tender hands of a diver
sliding on my path in a garden of olive trees and jasmine.
The scent of my mother sends me to a green orchard.
My only wish is to grow like seeds or trees,
my only wish is to see no more death,no poverty,
no more maimed,no drunks,no drugs.
It so happens that I am delighted
by my father's victories and his pride
and his brown eyes and his bald head.
It so happens he is happy to be my father.
And I'd feel lucky
if I attended my parent's 50th wedding anniversary
or conceived a child with dark curly hair.
It would be wonderful to free my country with honest talk
planting orange trees until I died of happiness.
I want to go on following the moon-
bright,silvery,secur with the light
casting jasmine into the bloody streets of Jerusalem,
blossoming every day.
I don't want to fall in a grave,
restless underneath the weight, a martyr for nothing,
dried-up,battling against the lies.
That's why my mother,when she greets me
with her outstretched arms gives me the moon,
and she runs through the arching streeets of Gaza,
and stops to stare at the white minarets of the mosques,
planting seeds of green fruit.
And my father leads me to the Golden Dome of the Rock
into debates about survival
into gatherings where friends speak of the good past,
into houses that remind me of home
into a sunny shelter cradled like a baby nursing
from a beloved breast.
There are starving children, and homeless people
hovering in the polluted air that I hate.
There are malignant cysts
that should disappear from bodies and skin.
There are soldiers all over,and machine-guns,and tear gas.
I climb slowly with my moon,my roots,my dome,
remembering my parents,
I hike up,through the sloping hills and green orchards,
and gardens of olive trees smelling of jasmine
in which little white petals are growing.
-Deema Shehabi Khorsheed
|08/05/01 at 19:50:43|
|The Middle East|
no, it is not only the date clusters
in the palm trees
but also the oil, the phosphate,
the potassium, the olives, the citrus,
the milk and honey,
and the manna that falls from Heaven.
People kill to share this land,
while the verse on their holiday letter
"Peace on Earth!"
-Nadia Hazboun Reimer
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