Translated from the Arabic by Sargon Boulus
With what meagre space
remaining between his hands
he tried to reconstruct
a universe: with a tear,
he drew a star, a moon with a glance,
and with a single touch, a sun.
When he closed his eyes,
people commuted to their work
on the sidewalk of his eyelids.
It took its name
and started to flow
The foam we saw
riding the waves
was its people
The grass over the dunes
whose men all
had departed, and so
the women were wed
That day's walk
The day he left
his fingers remained on the lock
his feet on the sidewalk
a layer of skin over the asphalt
Is this a walk or a death?
they asked, and when he
lifted his arms, they said
that he was trying to fly
but he was only waving
goodbye to his face
There she buried
her child, and waited
to lie beside him for years.
they lowered her down
into that soil,
She was only one day old
while he was already
an old man.
In the tunnel, in the bone
Soon time will end.
Winds are approaching the immense wall.
And there they will buckle under.
They passed quickly, and the race is over.
Finally the winds will rest.
Time cracked open. It hangs only from one stitch.
I await its decline, its resounding fall to earth.
Life begins on the last day.
Days are many, but life is meagre.
It is delayed from day to day. And when there's only
one day left, it rushes into it with its entirety hoping
to live there... in this way life begins, just when it's
ending. That's why life will never be lived!
I've still one day left, what should I do?
Begin life? With what will I begin this life?
With whom? How? With what action or speech?
And if I happen to meet someone, what will I say to
him? With you, now, I will begin my life? And if I
said this, and he responded, how will I live a life I'm
saying goodbye to? How will I live the death of life?
I woke up very early. Those who will depart must
wake up very early to enhance their final days.They
must witness the dawn, at least, before they go.
In this room's space exist the splinters of humans
who 1ived thousands of years ago, whom I say
goodbye to, and become splinters like them.
I say goodbye to the pulse of planets that reaches me
across the vacuum of space from distant galaxies.
The galactic swishings, the dust of stars, the air born
a million years ago crossing silently an immense
space in order to reach me.
I say farewell to gasping volcanoes, to the drizzle of
far-away swamps, to the pictures, the chairs, the
mirrors, the clocks, my children's eyes, their shoes
scattered carelessly on the floor. I say goodbye to the
waves that penetrate my body, to the vibrations that
come from the oldest place, the big bang!
Did I have to clash with myself all this time, and
everything else with me, in order to become a silent
prey in the end? Wasn't I able, a long time ago, to
relieve this noisy world of one voice at least?
The universe must rest. Voices must all become
Oh, for some quiet!
I can't describe the day, I can't describe anything.
Speaking is nothing but betrayal. They don't speak
on the last day. They just shut up and leave.
Those hills were silent also. And we were, with the
stirring of sun and wind, the only sound.
But we, with that monotonous movement in the
stillness of death, had snared mysteries from the
How were we, simple as we are, flung between the
jaws of immensities, to invent places that would
protect us? How were we able to continue until today!
We were no mortals. But certain bones of cattle and
dry sticks saved our lives. It wasn't life that protected
us, but death.
We mixed our births with grass. And under those thin
ears of wheat our land found a shade. We never wore
clothes, or trinkets or bracelets. But our breath was
our cloth and ornament. We were naked. We found
warmth in the firewood born of our panting,
which was dry, and so ignitable.
Under the reign of flame, we had many celebrations
for which we selected many guest seats, within our
Life was within our skin, not outside. Thus, we lived
life in its secret hideout, in dimness, in the womb,
before it was born.
Our celebrations were tended in our veins, not in
public squares. Our habitation in the imagination of
place. Our caravans in the head, not on the roads...
We lived the anti-birth: there was our childhood, our
youth and old age. And we met life once, before the
door of death.
During the war, my father looked for a bone in the
wilderness to crush it with a stone and satisfy his hunger.
From those crushed bones a number of
children were born, among whom I was one. I was the
son of a crushed bone.
Inside the bone a tunnel opens now, where there is a
wilderness and annals, and where my father is
He walks, taking me with him, hand in hand, looking
for a bone.
We walk in the heart of the bone, looking for it. When
we saw it at last, we were already far away.
We had become two bones, in which there was a
tunnel where people walked around looking for
I walked in the bone tunnel. My father had put me at
the invisible point in the folds, in the dusty emptiness,
the primal mother of the life of bones.
I turn my head back now and look: to those lost in
bone marrow, to the ones who stand on its pavements,
to those who stretch out their hands seeking an exit, to
the dead with the electricity of spirit, to those who look
for a stone to crush their bone and eat it, to the ones
who have just entered, and scarcely know what they
I turn my head back and look: when I cast the
marrow out, I had opened my passage. Emptiness
was the way. Emptiness was the stone.
My child sleeps close to me. I will not say goodbye
to her. I shall go to death as if I were going out to
bring her some candy. I shall go to death as if going
to a shop.
I was a little boy when my father carried me in his
arms to a shop. He entered and said: This is my
son, give him some candy. All throughout that day,
I played with a handful of sweets.
But why do I reminisce over my childhood like
someone entering life when I'm actually leaving it?
And what's the use of recalling it when there is no
room even for a phantom? Whole populaces, even
those that are extinct, still reside here. I stare out of
the window hoping they would walk on my glance,
and get out. This room's arteries must rest!
Those who got out, left their splintered eyes on the
walls. Those who stay, hang up the sheep of their
breath and ate... I'll be the one to walk on my
glance through the window, and disappear.
Those days, which are gone now, were not more
than practice for entering life. Life is a mere practice
for entering it. But it ends there, and we never enter.
What we live of life is that practice. We live only the
pre-birth. In the arteries that are still unformed. In
the featureless face. Inside the entrails' ethereal
darkness. We live on the edge, between being and
nothingness. At the door. And when we attempt to
exit, we are shattered, like a heavenly body, in the
So I'm not speaking about a life. I'm not describing
a birth, but its absence. I'm not writing about a light,
but a darkness. Not remembering what was, but
what was supposed to be... This supposition that
may finally be what we call our life.
... And saying farewell to it, perhaps, the only
certainty. A few more seconds and I shall have my
I will celebrate my veins. I will welcome those who
emerge suddenly from the void, and dance with
Then I'll go back to the bone. To my father's secret.
To the tunnel. Cast aside the guts, smile and go on