Do not believe me if I talked to you of war

Translated by: Yasmine Haj

 

War preoccupies me. But I’m ashamed to write about it. I flagellate my metaphors then implore them. Pain makes me depict a bullet, after which I recede into depicting an emotional slap. I disembowel the words and the Harakiri victims awake, all of them, and disembowel me.

Do not believe me if I talked to you of war, because when I spoke of blood, I was drinking coffee, when I spoke of graves, I was picking yellow daisies in Marj Ibn Amer, when I described the murderers, I was listening to my friends’ giggles, and when I wrote about a burnt theatre in Aleppo, I was standing before you in an air-conditioned one.

Do not believe me if I talked to you of war. Because each time I bombarded the city streets in a poem, the concrete would recline, the lamps would sway towards it, and the prophets would pass by in peace.

Whenever I imagined my father’s skin flayed in it, I could still touch him afterwards, safe and sound, with an embrace. And whenever I heard my mother’s wailing, she would lull me to sleep with an old song, and I would sleep like a baby.

 

But dreams are open cheques

Signed by a Hourani woman whose features are unknown to me. Except that when my knife misses the lettuce leaf, I could smell the scent of the tribe of blood my grandfather had left in my body and hers.

Dreams are an open cheque, signed by Qasioun’s sons who whispered them to me during a reverie, and I couldn’t tell whence the mountain’s name had sprung without googling it.

 

The first cheque:

In an obscure crowd, an obscene clarity dawns on me.

In the midst of exquisite engineering of geography’s tumult, a bullet quietly passes through me, at my lower back,

The crowd’s mystery grows and my ears’ windows are shut from within. The hole is as fresh as a spring, the blood is as warm as my mother’s voice in a song, and as smooth as my father’s skin.

 

The second cheque:

I was besieged in the world’s holiest spot.. Bullets rained down on me as did God’s words on the prophets..

I seized a stone and it melted in my hands. I overtook the soldiers and time overtook me.

And like a scared kitten, I cowered where a young Christ slumbered before carrying us on his back.

 

The third cheque:

Fear in the Levant.

 

Do not believe me when I talk to you of war

Because I’ve never heard a bullet shot besides the one my father threw from his double barreled gun into Marj Ibn Amer’s doves. And I’ve never scented blood from a wound except for that which I smelled with my mother the first time I menstruated.

I do not have an account in the bank of wars, but a Hourani woman reassured me that my cheques are valid.

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