Brief Words from the Coffin

Translated by Yasmine Seale​

To Anat

The coffin is empty

the tulips on my belly unopened

and I might be about to die of boredom

the time has come

to say the words life stopped in my throat

a full-bellied bird sits on my tongue

and field after field

fill with scarecrows their faces

those of the men I have known

tanks forgotten by war

line the yard of my house

since I was too proud to bask in their fire

and these flayed words feather by feather

plucked by mourners


strange women will wash my corpse

turn my heavy flesh about and stare

at my three tattoos

picture it burning under the earth

mouthing afterlife afterlife afterlife


they will go out and give me away

            crows the size of men

            flew out of her holes

            bald crows with

            cut tongues


what afterlife

I am in death no less at work

no less entangled with the first

I heard no Gabriel no trumpet blast no final judgment

love slapped me and I am still busy

tracing the groove it left on my cheek

and still the nights brim


you see stranger I won’t lend my books

how would I part with my dreams

I am not done hoarding

pictures I treasure putting them in frames

without which their faces would slip away

your Lord will ask me

what have your hands done

and I will say I have no hands

strange women wrecked me with strange water


my studies are not over

I have not learned to ease the lame foot of my rancour

to hide from love’s slap like a straw in fire

to smell the bodies slaughtered

without catching my own scent

to feed the dogs of defeat before they sink

their teeth into my neck


the crows will bury me because like them

I never learned to walk

I ran until I met with slaughter

and my nose broke


the strange woman’s hand is cold

and from her palm will sprout forever

caws and feathers in the background

my voice mouthing

words on boredom

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