Art for Innocent Despair.
Detail from a poster circa 1983 | Palestine Poster Project Archives

Innocent Despair

Detail from a poster circa 1983 | Palestine Poster Project Archives


When separate from you my blood will ache.
An unknown part of me will ache
and I’ll try to kill it. Or grab it.
The cell that misses you will throb in me,
and I won’t be able to spot it,
it changes position often,
drags out the game,
hurts my senses.
My eyesight will worsen,
my auditory range will dwindle,
and my nose, a hunting dog’s,
will search for your smell.
Whenever air touches my skin,
a fiend will pierce my body and flee.
My memory will hurt and eat my head,
and my head will vanish but not die.
My ache will regenerate my head.
I’ll grow sad, an invisible feeling,
a ruin, an infinite overflow of dread.
And the angry universe will collect itself
in a corner of my life to ask me:
What have you done with the scale of love?
How did you waste openness on detail?
The answer will hurt me as will silence.
Burning, I’ll go to my death
and demand my right
to a nap.




Translated by Fady Joudah

Jadal Al-qasem was born in Sofia, Bulgaria to a Damascene Syrian mother and a Palestinian Jerusalemite father. She currently resides in Ramallah. She holds a graduate degree in democracy and human rights from Birzeit University and works as a researcher in the field of dignity and human rights. Her first poetry collection, Wheat in Cotton, won the 2015 Palestine Young Poet Competition from the Al-Qattan Foundation. 

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