Wadih Saadeh
Translated by Ghada Mourad


Wadih SaadehThey moved toward the water
descending from their mountains like soft shadows
so that as not to awaken the grass.
When their shadows passed the fields
some parted company and slept there
Others clung to rocks, stretched out
and returned them to the rocks.

They moved until they reached
the water exhausted
Above them the sun was looking for a needle
to reconnect them with the shadows.

A Gaze

They leave their eyes and they walk
reclining on old gazes
A silence lying on their bodies
dead breezes lying
spirits of annihilated places
if a cloud passes through their mind
rain comes down on their distant fields

They walk
and when they get tired they spread a gaze
and sleep.


Death was not dancing in the squares only
but near the flowers,
near the cockscomb, snapdragon and basil
with the spring water to their tables.
Death was dancing
in the squares they were
blending with asphalt
Those bent over the flowers are taken
up by bullets
and in space they become

The Dead Are Asleep

They were naked
and they had children
whose hair they tickle in the evening
and sleep
They were naked and simple
would sweat all day smiling
on their way back they stand in front of façades
their eyes measure clothes for their children
and walk

They would take two steps and touch
the trees' trunks before the dawn breeze
under their eyes branches bear fruits
in the January snow
Their machetes would long for the fields
The wind between the villages always ready for their call
when suddenly their wheat turned into ribs
and the breeze became grass growing on their bodies.

They were naked
and every evening the sun was
throwing her light silken cover
on their souls.

Death, at Dawn

They open their doors before the sun rises
they open both leaves
so that the whole sun comes in.
The breeze at dawn
watering the flowers at dawn
love of life at dawn,
and at dawn
a beam entered
through the door's wood
and made a white line
on closed eyelashes

A Nocturnal Visit

They were telling their children tales
about the guardian angel and the crops
and the nightingale who came this morning
and sang on the mulberry tree, outside their window
They were telling them about the grapes
They were going to sell and buy
them new clothes
about a treasure
that will be under their pillows tomorrow if they sleep,
but they arrived
severed the tales
left red stains on the wall
and went out.


Before they overthrow each other they practiced
long years
on partridge hunting
on throwing pebbles in the air
engraving them with bullets
they practiced plucking wings
making them brooms
They tried
to plant plumes
in their arms
to become birds
They fall down
like birds

A Secret Sky

They found him
his hand blue and flat
like the wing of a bee-eater
his mouth slightly open
as if he wanted
to sing.

Something on the Doorstep

He was dead but he was
feeling their fingers on his forehead
They placed him in the middle of the house
on a bed they rented; he used to
wish to buy one like it
They laid him and draped him in clothes
like the ones he saw in the city's storefronts
and when they carried him
as he was leaving the house he left
a strange thing on the doorstep
and whenever they entered they
shivered without knowing why.

A Leaf

They silently carried him
and left him there, in the square
in the field of crosses and tombstones
in the spacious square next to his sleeping

He said, "I'll be back
the key is under the flower pots"
One of its leaves
was still in his hand.


He lay down
One half under the roof
the other under heaven
Many hovering around him.
Today he returned
they brought him colored with blood and dirt
They placed him on the terrace
and water drops
were descending from a cloud
on his feet.


The words he uttered
on the seats, in the closet, on beds and the wall
they brought a maid; she cleaned the house
furniture, pots and stones
they brought paint
they brought new voices
and continued to hear them.


That day
under the square's oak tree
only two empty stone seats remained
they were silent
looking at each other
and weeping

A Tree

He walked two steps and touched
a plant he had planted the day before
sap went out of his hands to its veins
leaves left his eyes to its branches
and when he wanted to return
he did not leave his place,
his feet turned into
the lock that was locking up behind itself the howling of the night
and the door out of whose cracks morning was getting

[Translated from Arabic; Bisabab Ghaymah `Ala al-Arjah (Beirut: Dar al-Jadid, 1992)]


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