For anyone who thinks the golden age of Mesopotamia ended ages ago.
Poetry by Saadi Youssef, translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
A pathway of willows, water moss, and greenery
cuts through a sea of date palms.
A flower in my hat.
A river of basil,
silence and pomegranates
stretch to her shuttered home,
to rose shrubs in her orchard
and an insomniac moon
and sadness sailing it’s boat.
River, silver is swaying
on your green waters. Do not drown it.
From its basket, dawn is tossing
sunlight in radiant clusters of dew
like a frond with leaves of coral.
River, if you reach her house
to caress it, or to make it one of your banks,
take this flower to her,
take this coral flower to her.
Maybe with it
she will forget to forget.
The Murdered Come Out At Night
At night they awake,
their white eyes forever open wide.
And in the city, even through its narrow alleys,
they walk, their shrouds hardly concealing their limbs.
They walk. Their mouths are orchards
of lead, singing, and the alleys resound.
We hear them when the children shiver.
No other sound can voice this wild despair.
A sound that knocks on doors and burns
like a bird crossing the valley of death and flowering.
May ends… and from the waves of its banners
blood will gush to startle a dozing nation.
Without An Alphabet, Without a Face
by Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef