Buzzing with people and flies,
I was born in it, and
On its walls I learned exile and wandering.
Love and death and the isolation of poverty
In its underworld and at its gates.
In it my father taught me to navigate and to read:
The rivers, the fires, the clouds, and the mirage
He taught me to know sadness, rebellion, and perseverance
To sail, and to circle the houses of the saints of god,
Searching for the light and the warmth of a future spring
Which still lives at the bottom of the earth
And in the sea shells,
Awaiting the prophecy of a fortune teller.
In it he taught me to wait for the night and the day
And to search for a hidden, enchanted city
On the map of the world
Similar to my city
In the color of its eyes and in its sad laugh,
But not wearing
The tatters of the wandering clown,
Nor does its summer buzz with people and flies.
"Elegy to the Unborn City" by Abdul Wahab Al-Bayati
Love, Death, and Exile: Poems Translated from Arabic, Bilingual Edition
Abdul Wahab Al-Bayati, Translated by Bassam K. Frangieh