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Sacrificial Poem


I am a great admirer of the lives of prophets.
Reading them is like buying a lottery ticket:
the long fantasy they contain of a peaceful life,
perfectly empty.
So lost in thought you can hear God
whisper in your inner ear,
and you in turn mutter words unknown
to human invention.
You can see ultraviolet and infrared.
You speak the language of frogs.
You chase from your heart
all the anguish of mountains.
You rid the world of its habit
of eating its own waste.

Gentlemen, this is not a game,
not some trick to write a trifling poem,
not some ramble in a passing valley.
The prophets worked hard at it.
They saw so clearly each eyelid
abandoned the other, and they spoke
the words that have not left our lips
for thousands of years.

I want to speak like them
but my imagination is the size of a mouse hole
and all its bright, quick mice
were found slaughtered at its door.
I want to say a word about slaughter,
about the slaughtered tents
in slaughtered lands.
About their residents,
who fell from their mothers
already slaughtered.
About the mothers, slaughtered
in warehouses and wells
like hens
with the knives of their children.

Gentlemen, this is not a game.
This is infrared and ultraviolet.
Even acid cannot touch it.
We must be prophets
and madmen to see it.
I want to say a word about my indifference
to the nation,
about my sadness and the way
it clashes with this age of springs
fabricating hope.
I do not fabricate hope.
I wash the brains of my friends
and I tell them this nation is the size of a mouse hole
and I drag them to the plane door.
I want to say a word about those who have no planes,
to whose doors they cannot be dragged,
and when they go out in search of one,
are slaughtered and return
on ice, like vegetables.

But I will say nothing
for my neck is short and I cannot see
the bottom of the well.
My life is nothing
but a looping line
between home and work
and back.

On my way I see girls
hopping onto buses
with the lightness of hens,
and lottery tickets darkening
the city skies,
and slaughtered prophets
pecked by flies.


Asmaa Azaizeh

Asymptote

January 2019


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