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Popular and Known to No One

Art for Popular and Known to No One.
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With ravenous eyes
I devoured what others thought I was nourishing.
This is how I overindulged,
with glances that
are never returned.
A few days ago the little one cried.
She lifted her head to the sky,
tears fell from her eyes,
a sob filled her throat.
In silence I watched,
ignoring what was happening around me.
This is my life;
it teaches me how riddles are composed
and how, from truth, mysteries are woven.
When I speak of myself,
others think I am alluding to them.

I want a flower on my neck,
specifically on the back of it,
on the spot that’s known for renewing energy.
And let it be an olive blossom,
stunning
and modest, popular
and known to no one.
Last year I saw the blossoms up close
as if for the first time,
the wind scattering them
across the land and over the walls.
I want the flower that could speak on my behalf
to be tattooed on the part of me
that is difficult to see.
I want it to identify me if I leave,
to adorn me and to speak
of my need for decoration.

This time I’ll dissolve.
I’ll enter love as a woman
and leave it as oil or kindling.
spilling over if I must,
blocking out the sun if you want,
delaying the light.
My love, I’ve tried something safer than callousness,
more established and longer lasting.
My voice softens whenever I remember you.
I hunch over
to protect my heart.

My heart is calm
and my eyes are astonished.
I point to the fertility of the soil,
to augurs in the heavens.
to the sighs in caresses
and loneliness in gazes.
Everything speaks its own language
and my mind is clear, attuned, tireless.
I call to things,
to the unreachable fruit to quiet
to the burning sun, to forgiveness,
to love that vacillates in its excess,
to transform me into steam or ice.
The earth is my mother
and I am three quarters water.

Let’s return to where we came from,
if this journey promises
any possible return, as dust
or particles,
just as people age
and return as storks or wolves,
and despair overwhelms them,
or the way distance grants them
a longing to reignite despair.
I was horrified that love could end,
that its bright gaze could dim.
This morning, I went out looking
for my house and shared
my breakfast with a hungry animal.

Everything near the fireplace
is aflame.
Faces and hems
and on the horizon, to the tune playing on my radio,
the trees bend and sway.
The wind knows me,
and the living do.
All that exists is for me.
My eyes have traveled the windows that look out onto what I want.

My blood type is AB+.
They say it is a miserly type
taking from all and giving to no one.
This is why I’ve avoided using it as a term of endearment
for you, worried that it contains some insult.
Whenever I sit for a while,
my elbow digging into my thigh, my head in my hands,
I retract the past.
I say: maybe he is my blood,
his absence anesthetizes me
and his arrival makes me tremble.

Let’s finish what we started
in the desolate night,
sitting before our strange life,
persevering as others do.
We are god’s parched earth—
we drink everything and thrive on neglect.
Come let’s strike this deal of ours
near the river
so that the fish whose eyes never close,
the tree that never thirsts,
the soil that never dries,
the stones that do not scrape,
the sound of the river that speaks of farewell,
so that unbeknownst to them,
free birds and creatures
content in their burrows,
will be our good witnesses.

                                     —Nablus

 

Read more from our series by Palestinian poets.

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