Art for When He Reaches His Solitude in Full.
Detail from a 1989 cover of Palestinian Affairs magazine | Palestine Poster Project Archives

When He Reaches His Solitude in Full

Detail from a 1989 cover of Palestinian Affairs magazine | Palestine Poster Project Archives
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He closes the door, turns off the lights
except the hallway’s which leads to the fence
and lets him peek at the bougainvillea

and the branches of the sweet apple he planted last winter.  
Inside his room one candle
by the window will do.

A smokey candle and its faint glow
to reconsider the seating arrangement
of faces, bodies, names, and places
that appear through the smoke.

In endless hallways sighs stumble to reach him.
Voices and rooms so remote they almost went under.

But he’ll be there hands and all
to guide them out of the dark, with smoke for a path,
light for a sign, and the fence
that keeps everything in place, preserved
and well cared for.

That his memories will not rot or expire.
That they will suffice, be there waiting for him
when he reaches his solitude in full.

 

                                        —Zakariya/Beit Jala/Ramallah

 

Translated by Fady Joudah

 

 

 

Read more from our series by Palestinian poets.

Ghassan Zaqtan is the author of several poetry collections and novellas, including The Silence that Remains (Copper Canyon Press), Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (Yale University Press), and Describing the Past (Seagull Books).

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