Wadih Sa’adeh

Translated by: Clarissa C. Burt

“They are Last Words ….
Here I leave them behind.”

Wadih Sa’adehDo I say farewell to writing?
I say farewell.
The dialogue of writing is the dialogue of silence. The time of writing is the time of absence. The place of writing is non-place.

There is no life in words. Life may be there, outside them.There, there may be others, and me too. In the other side of speech, outside the text.

Writing is the absence of life. We may come across life by walking,
We may come across it by sitting, under a tree or on a sidewalk.
Perhaps it will come inadvertently, by a kiss or by a bullet, but not by writing.

I sprinkle on this dress I’m wearing a poison for words and run madly searching for life. Poisoning words is the right way. The death of words is the first word of life, its first babbling.

O, you coming forth from my mouth, you are killing me!

Not with the dagger of betrayal alone, but with the sword of erasure is this killing. By shooting from the luminous rooftop into the depth of the mysterious delusional impossible. With the kindling of fire in the heart and limbs, and distributing joints in a scatter.

Walking on cloud, and falling as drizzle.
Entering into the chamber of death, in view of the fact that life plays along the corridors.

In the long hunting trip I was nothing but a flusher of the spirits of words. Texts are startled doves flying up before authors.

A mirage draws out a way with no houses on its sides, and nothing at the end of its winding. It let’s out snare-ropes for wayfarers.

And I still knew: Why must I, the skinny one, stay hung up on these ropes, neither live nor dead, skinny so the rope doesn’t kill me, hung just out of reach of the hand of life.

I’m the one who doesn’t relish a bite to eat - why must I remain prey of what does not find it pleasant to be the master of the feast.

Hanging on a rope. Hanging on a paper, waiting for a life to come forth from the fissures of words.

I don’t know a life that has come forth to its writers from there. I know writers who have died over letters, writers who have died over diacritics, writers who have died over their margins. What am I waiting for from words? I want blankness.

A delusional search for a delusional life – writing.
Being able to conjure absence with a text is not true. Neither the living nor the dead.
What I believed during the long journey of this delusion is not true.
Absence is non-being and death is non-being. It is not possible to conjure either of them. We become absence; we become death in the journey of this delusion.

Writing - a synonym for death.

I used to think that I would build an existence from imagination. That imagining would transform imagination into body, and words would build a house, which I would be in, not out in front facing it.

I went a long way in the imagination of language, until I was broken in its delusion. I went along in language searching for my native place, until I discovered that I was searching for a delusion. Because language was my native place, I had only dwelt in absence.

I was nothing but a flusher of spirits of words.
Those which emerged from my mouth, along with my spirit, then absented themselves afar. I recall now the last scant drop of them on the furthest horizon. I recall some of their eyes that emerged suddenly; they turned to look at me blamefully, and quickly disappeared. I recall feathers scattering all about with gunshots, and feathers hastening to flee, and a fine line drawn in space by this flight, then erased in a moment.

I was nothing but a failed flusher of spirits of words.

There is no place for words, for they are a state of absence, a state of impossibility. They come as a shadow would come, and they go as a shadow would go, with no face or stature, or place.

Shadows, shadows, and no vestigial trace.
Many words, but it’s impossible to say anything.
A shadow, passing sometimes, always passing, but with no owner, no seat, no utterer, and no talk with the ones passing through.

Talking is the betrayal of place.
And place is the betrayal of speech too.

So let me pass on; there’s no speech or place for me.
I was shadow; I was treacherous speech
So let me pass on.

Desires turn back on the ones who have them. So let me walk with no desire above this slender bridge because any arrow will make me fall. Any arrow, and perhaps the blowing of a breeze. The ones hunting desires are their game animals, dropping one after another, as if crossing were only for the undesiring.

So I walk on, but slowly, with no desire. Let me walk on, empty, perhaps I’ll arrive unharmed. The portage increases my weight, and this bridge will plummet quickly.

Those who wish to cross over must divest themselves, not just of their clothes alone, but of themselves as well!

Therefore, there is no crossing over.

I was only trying to cross over with words: sending sound to cross instead of me over this bridge. But the sound wouldn’t cross over, and its echo would turn back to kill me!

I was always practically dead. I was a group of dead: the victim of every sound and every echo. A dead man when I send forth speech, and a dead man when I receive its echo. And because I spoke a lot, I died a lot. And now I want silence; I want to live.

I put a mirror in front of me and look - I’m dead!
What do I not see, besides my eyes and my hands and my face and my spirit?
The breezes are there, and the collision of space with them. Hair near fog. Madness near water. Singing under the cloud. The sea above the heart. The watersource next to dust. Time with Rock. Blood with Sign. Light dangling in the Snake’s tent.

My voice there tries by itself to cross the bridge, warily, terrified, going parallel between its two edges, divested of every weight, even its echo….trying, perhaps it can cross.

My voice is there, and I’m here.

Even were it to cross, it would be there, and I here, separated, cut-off, cut apart, with no speech between us, no kinship, no look.

It was perhaps my voice, one day. But it is there by itself, on that bridge; I’m alone here, in the snake’s tent.

There is no crossing, even with words. As if the first step were the last. It’s as if standing still were the whole distance, the whole way!

There were once two companions: Sound and Snake. They played on the hills, they pelted one another with almost invisible drops of dew.

Sound and Snake were companions pelting each other with dew. And a drop struck Sound, and the Void took him back.

He lived there alone, with his tears coming down, cutting across remote distances, to the Snake’s mouth.

Sound has one companion: Snake. They play together and kill together!

O word arising, malicious, from my mouth
O word arising to play with the Snake and kill me.

I have dew. On the grass in my back yard.

So pelt each other with dew at night, so the Void won’t see you and call out to you. And play whisperingly.
And kill whisperingly. Perhaps the neighbors want to sleep.

We were sleeping under the wool of wild chicory; sleeping silently.

Instead of sounds we would release time’s timidity, so it would walk among the biers and Memory. Perhaps we will fly, drink alcohol from the throats of dead sparrows.

Now, the snake’s tent. The dried-up branch before it, from the leftovers of a pulverized forest, opens and closes the door.

Now, left of the ruins, right of the cinders is the gallows which kept the shirt!!

The branch is a little higher than my height. Therefore I shan’t bump into it. I’ll enter without bowing my head.

Now is the time of bones. The time of blankness in the body. The time of the one withdrawing gently from the flesh. He who is thrown down, and withdraws into a corner, a lone witness to the fact that he was, that he was not. The time of the dust of non-being. The time of non-being with no dust. The one withdrawing lightly from the hand of time, from the specter of place, from the shadow of the angel. The one who was a grain-spike with weird-eyed kernels. The one withdrawing white and pure from the field, to beyond the limits of vision, to the edge of non-being.

The bones had no speech. There was something primordial, gooey, confused and impoverished, that they wish to proclaim. They search for a language for it, in which perhaps it would come to life.

In that remote place, on a small bed, the confusion of bones began. There began their silence, and their search for a language. In that place where language had not yet been born, where there was a tree, whose leaves drop one after another in silence.

There was no place for words… In the beginning there was no speech; there was silence. And when words burst forth, the way of death began.

Now I bear these confused white bones, and I cast them down in their first silence.

I put them in the non-existence of language, in the little bed.

Everything that I learned from words, that I raised from the well of ancestors, that flashed out, and that was concealed, and that was sent out in directions, I return it to its silence.

I extend the gestures of my hands to the sounds that have come to be far off. And I return them to the larynx. I spread out a shirt for them under the wool of the chickory, and sleep near them.

In this narrow place where sleepers and the dead play cards, and take turns.

A delusional search for place, is writing. A delusional search for time, for life, for freedom. A delusional search.

Writing does not inhabit life. Its habitation is in another place. On the edge. In the delusional.

Writing’s habitation is behind the door. It knocks, but the door does not open to it. Perhaps because no one is inside. Perhaps because inside is empty. Perhaps because there is no inside.

Where are life and place and time? If they are outside, why, when we are outside, do we not see them? If they are inside, why doesn’t the door open?

I the writer confess: I searched in writing at length for life, and didn’t find it. I found no life, nor time, nor place, nor freedom. Freedom? A priori there is no freedom. How can there be freedom as long as there is no life? We invent them both, they said. True, and here we are inventing them, but out of delusional materials also not conducive to life.

Why do I write, then? Since I knew, since I discovered this delusion, this lie, why do I write?

I must, most likely, put myself back together. I break myself apart bit by bit, throwing away the cursed part of it, and putting it together anew. If only the self were an instrument. If only I could just see its pieces.

Wandering lost in the gale, as I search for an instrument! Wandering lost and dispossessed. The wind dispossessed me, and I want my possessions back!

I want the finery which my mother gave me; I want the birds which my father brought me; I want the feather of spirit, the teeny spot of space before the house, the milk of the stone which used to gush from my glances.

If all of these are among the things snatched from me, didn’t I at least have myself in the past?

I want it now, then.

And if it isn’t mine, I want a flower, for its bier.
I want to get back my possessions: the first alleyway, the dust of which stuck to my feet, and became mine; the star of promises when sunset comes, while I’m sleeping under an almond tree. My possessions: my looks which I emitted tenderly, and whose return I still await; my hand which passers-by thought to be a violin; my gasps which mixed with a light breeze, then changed into a wind that has now turned back on me and dispossessed me.

What time is it?
I know that the ill hallucinate at sunset in this fashion, that the holes made by rapacious looks will remain empty, and that the bullet of madness and the bullet of wisdom both strike with the same death.

In the past I was not aware of all this. The earth was a round; I could not see its other side. Now the earth is an oblong, a vast desert, long caravans of humans and trees and asses, that the dead are atop.

A faint line in the distance, a hanged string I want to cross. Whenever frayed ends came out of the cord, I thought them my children.

Sometimes memory speaks about the earth to me the naked one, so I stretch out my hand to her coat thrown on an old chair, and try to wrap myself in it.

I try to convince myself that I, from these ragged threads, will make a wooly sweater for my children.

Where are the ones abiding in the cold? Let them be gathered now in a queue, and the ones abiding in heat in another queue: it is necessary to sort people with their degrees of heat; it is necessary to create a balance between humankind’s chill and it warmth. Balancing between the overcoat and the ragged sweater, else the earth would fall.

Talk for Talk. Only a little talk for lots of futility. Talk belongs to the winds to the glance, to shadow, to the snake. To the combing thread belongs its frayed ends, to the gallows keeping the shirt.

Talk , for those who are not listening.

Give me the bier in the morning. Give me the cloud on the cushion. Look out the window and lop off the head of the lily. Hunt the mad bird. Hunt the traitorous robe in space. Hunt the madman bent down over the spring.

Cut language’s throat. Terrify the words. Cut them ragged and chase them away. Throttle style,curse principles and logic . Take Voice to the garden, take it on an outing, with sentences and throw them in the river.

No, No, let the belly of language yet teem with words. Words whose fathers and mothers think that they will toy with them like infants, washing their face and combing their hair and bringing them toys… Let the fathers and mothers of language dream of progeny – this is their happiness – don’t destroy it. For the belly of language is teeming with words that are born dead. Let them know gently. Let delusion gladden their hearts; leave language to its own affairs: to be inseminated with silence and impossibility, with absence and coma, with death and death.

There are words which would have lived, if they had stay in the dark. They come forth to the light and die. They could have stayed alive in their cocoon, in their privacy. No sooner had they entered the public sphere, but they entered death.

The Dark alone may be life. The private, unseen, unspoken, undone.

Was I supposed to lock the doors, lower the curtains, and turn out the lights so I could have life and language? At the moment they crossed through the darkness and mixed with the many outside, I lost them both…. but didn’t find them inside, really. I thought they were outside, in a bar or under a tree or on a pavement. They were not – neither outside nor inside. Where, then, are life and language?

The clock strikes as I stand beneath it. I hear the chimes running in space and disappearing.

Standing beneath the clock. I don’t run with the chime, but hear it and just pay it last respects. Fixed in place and fixed in time. Swift continuous indistinguishable chimes. The first is like the second, like the thousandth, like the millionth. And I, under the first chime, am like me under the every chime. Standing in the space of sounds, steadfast in the wave of reverberations. A bird lands on my head as it lands on a statue, and flies away. A fish touches me and goes on.

There is no place for feelings they can go to. No room to move the emotions. No distance between the walls.

There is no place or time for words to move or live.

Are time and place also delusions with which we try to build a refuge? But there are not reeds enough to erect this tent. For this reason we sit and play music of death to the air.

The wind crosses over, leaving dead at our doors. We cry out from inside, despairingly: Who will inter our dead? Our first ancestors would beat big rock night and day to dig a pit in which to plant their dead. They would provision them with gold and money to pay the fee of the journey to eternity. Our dead is at our doors – who will inter them? Who will inter our dead in this room, the ones stretched out for centuries atop the cement, layer on layer, until this whole building has come to be of the substance of death, and we have come to be the offspring of a mixture of dead.

I try to stick my head out over the rubble, to emit a sharp sound piercing bone and decayed flesh. I must glimpse what is behind it.

But let me sleep. The shroud of heaven descends on the room and covers me. Let me sleep with the same repose as belongs to flocks, to inanimate matter, to ashes. Let me sleep on account of the wound is incapable of movement. On account of the crippled dream, and on account of forgetfulness. Let me sleep and cover myself with what remains of the dead on the tables and chairs. Let me sleep humbly and not go far off, so as to think I’m alive.

There are words which come forth from under the ground. I hear them emerging from between the dislocated jawbones of dead buried a thousand years ago. Jaws which float to the top of the soil to say a word. And jaws to offer a kiss unfeasible for them in life.

Bones coming forth to laugh. Bones coming forth to play, bones searching for their first places, and bones looking around perhaps to see the earth on which they lived, and not seeing it.

The bones emerge from under the ground to do what their possessors would not do above ground.

From this aperture, from the bone, I try to look out at the world. Perhaps I can do today what I will emerge from the ground to do after a thousand years. Perhaps I can laugh now and play and see the earth, and say the words which I want to say, and imprint my kiss on the mouth of life.

Many kisses are imprinted on my death. But I want one kiss for life.

It is said, The Dream heals from the sickness of speech. It finds the time lost and creates place. It is the lust’s beautiful kiss, the dazzling chime of the clock of the wellspring, and the eye of the river.

It is said, no matter how the dream hides in darkness, no matter how it is defeated in the light, it will one day become our steed, the furnishings of our house, and the covering of our skin’s. It will become our flesh itself, and our bone.

Another delusion is added to the legacy of peoples. Another treacherous word in language. A broken down tent, in which the defeated seek protection. In the history of long wars, all of whose warriors are broken.

Let dreams be blind so they don’t see me as I meet my fate among the hooves.

Let asphyxiation of dreams be my banner as I wage this battle, so I may reach defeat with no innocent being in my company.

Writers fight with dreams and words, and fall beneath them. They are defeated by the weapons they fight with. They die in a battle in which their enemies are their very selves.

Writers are defeated by the specters of the doves of dreams, by the glass of transparent speech, shattered in their mouths. When they enunciate a word, they are wounded, they choke… when writers speak, they swallow glass.

I carry a folded paper, on which I wrote a few words, trying to defeat history!

A folded paper, with which I try to find place and time. To erase my non-existence, and the non-existence of my fathers and grandfathers, and to make their dreams be born to play with them, and their bones come back, and their jaws strewn about cleave back together.

A folded paper!

And between the creases are the castles of our kingdoms, captives of places gone astray, whom we then picked up as we were singing, ships sailing along on the drool of our desires, and the flames roasting the sails so there be no sea after us.

A folded paper, a fold of delusion, clouds far-off, which we smash with the stones of our eyes.

So let writers show mercy for their life, this bird which tries to touch them, and whom they kill.

Let them show mercy to their life and no take the innocent to the gallows.

We could have taken our life on an outing, but we took it at once to battle. We even did not let it pluck flowers from the road so it would have companions under the shroud.

We could have armed ourselves with forgetfulness, with madness, to kill the intellect so we could survive.

We saw happy madmen and glad animals on our road. We did not hear the trees shrieking under the loggers’ axes. But we heard the loggers moaning when cutting down trees.

It was possible to kill memory and accompany the birds. To go round the earth with them without the memory of arrival.

It was possible to kill the memory of desire, the memory of place, the memory of salvation, the memory of happiness, the memory of history… and the memory of life!

It was possible to kill memory of the search for life, and to live life itself. As it is. Without anxious notions of inventing delusions to change it, nor colors to beautify it, nor frameworks to encompass it, nor brakes for its horrible sweeping out from under us.

It was possible to live life’s deluge with gratification, if only we had surrendered to it silently, with no resistance, no talk, no dreams.

No one lives but those who have forgotten the language of their grandparents. Those who have broken the glass of memory, and thrown themselves in the river. Those who blasted the sacred sanctuaries to smithereens, and walked into the pathless maze

No one lives except the ones who tossed their parents in the wells.

I tossed no one in the well, and I broke nothing. Am I dead, then?

Deep in the dark, deep in the hole, the seed lives in silence. Silence makes it grow, silence keeps it alive. As soon as a bud pokes out of it unto sounds, it dries up; no sooner does it poke out into light than it burns up.

In this interior life one must live with no eye, with no mouth, no ear, no hand. Things get bigger or smaller with no nod from anyone. With the nod of darkness by its lonesome, darkness which does not nod.

There I tried to build a house so I’d have a garden. But the stones would always fall to ruin. It’s not hands that build houses there. They inadvertently rise up, and the will to build ruins them.

I had horses there that would take me into beautiful unknown regions, calling out to me in inaudible whispers, with an invisible signal, so I would mount them…. And the time I wanted to train my horses, I fell dead by their hooves.

Deep in the dark there is Place. Where we are the garden and house, and others are our invention.

There we are, with our strange hidden instruments which hatch strangers.

There is no passageway for other from there. We only create them and bury them. We invent them as unreal human beings, with which to amuse ourselves, so they will be only playthings. Then we bury them.

With the same instrument which invents the strangers, I try to invent myself as well. In this deep dark place, where there is no indication of a birth or death, where there is no indication, even of a place.

But, the others alone can be invented. As for our essential self, no. It is born in a place far from us, it lives in a far away place, and dies in a place far away.

Sometimes, if it comes close by, we can catch a glimpse of it. We live facing it, with our eyes closed, and our eyes don’t open their full extent except at the time it says farewell.

Does this word, does saying Farewell make us see?

Is this word alone the whole dialog, all of presence? All of time and place and life? It this writing – the whole of it? Is it the whole text?

Then writers write nothing but their absence?
They only live in the absence of their place and time?
And seeing, is it merely reflection of absence?
How are we to build an existence from this non-existence?
How are writers to write a presence, not an absence?
And what they see, all of this that they see, is it merely the delusional inner glint of a non-existence they think is an existence?
Does this mean, more exactly, that writers don’t write anything but their death? Nothing but the delusion of their existence and the reality of their non-existence?
And so, are writers really existent?

With the self-same peculiar instrument writers try to invent themselves. Yet they invent nothing but images of strangers, images of absent ones.

Writing is nothing, then, but writing absence. Writers are their absence.

Let me descend to the bottom of the wellspring and wash my face. I must wake up from this absence.

I shot my delusions very high, higher than this space which I have, and they broke loose and were lost to me.

I didn’t own anything but delusions. They alone were my property. But even they no longer belong to me. So let me descend to the bottom of the spring to wash my face.

Humankind must keep its delusions, cajole them so they won’t leave them. They will need them to keep them company

Humankind mustn’t drive away their delusions - so let them embrace them tenderly, or what will remain for them?

Delusions are our life; so let’s keep them so we’ll have life.

Delusion captivated me as a small boy, and flew away with me, until I imagined myself the bird, and all the earth my tree

I wanted to set the climates straight, and prune the windstorms and shear the foothills of the mountains, and the unknown regions of the thickets, so I worked night and day on taming the earth, deluded and happy.

I was defeated, but my delusion would make me happy. The time I discovered that my delusion was a delusion, the time I could no longer convince myself of my delusion, I fell prostrate, felled by my despair.

Delusion, then, is happiness. Reality is despair.

So let’s keep our delusions, and increase them. Let’s search for another delusion, as soon as one delusion is lost. Let’s invent delusions, or else how will all this time pass?!

Delusion is our grace, our only God, so let’s make it sacred! People are their own delusion.

After all this going around in circles in a void, let at least a word come forth from my mouth, so it can point out the way to me.

Let it precede me and show me to the wellspring, where I must wash my face.

Let a sharp word break forth from my mouth and bore into the bone. Let an aperture open when I must see, a vent when I must get out, a pathway if there be a crossing over.

Many words came forth from my mouth, but what benefit were they? Uncountable words went round in a void. Were they laid down, I would possess a mountain, but of ashes.

What benefit are these writers’ mountains turned to ash? As long as the ash does not give warmth or light, and are no good for building a room, or for walking on.

Mustn’t writers and people warm themselves with their silence? To know that silence is their only room, behind which is no garden, and no road? Why, then, do they demolish this temple, this sacred silence, and sleep naked in speech, shivering from cold, disappointed and ashamed?

When people talk, they get cold, they get sick. The overcoats which covered their spirits rip at the seams, their selves are exposed to infectious diseases of the air, and their genitals are exposed to commoners.

When people talk, they lay a pavement of illnesses, they lay a pavement of hallucinations and cancers. They inhabit them, as the illnesses and the hallucinations dwell in them, and they build cities. Their cities and their inhabitants come to be under the unfair domination of words. They become colonies for voices. Captives to pronunciation, and captives to seeing, and captives to writing. All expressions come to be in courts of inquisition. They all are executed in courtyards of speech. In the courtyard in which they spoke their words, the courtyard in which they remained silent.

Many hosts passed their hooves over our words. They trampled them before we pronounce them. They trampled them before we were born.

For that reason, when we speak, we say nothing but the squashed sounds of ancestors. We talk the conquered language, the captive language, the slain language from whose throat nothings arises but death rattlings, nothing but imperfect and strange sounds.
When we speak, we lay a pavement of corpses.

We haven’t got a language; we have death rattles, from a language slain, bygone.

Quasi-sounds creep toward us from our dead, across the pathless waste, across thousands of years, mysterious and strange.

We haven’t got a language. For that reason there is no communion with others. No communion with ourselves.

When we are not communicating, not cross-inseminating, how can we have a birth?

Are we then the offspring of repeated deaths, not of births? And we won’t have a language, we won’t have a life, with out the resurrection of the dead?

Isn’t that our language and our life won’t be ours until when we bring back life to those whom we killed and whom language killed, and whom history killed?

But isn’t that resurrection itself what renews the dream of everlasting sleep?

There are dreams, little dreams which I grasped leaping over the river.

I was leaping nearly on fire when my dreams were cut off. They were the floating particles of this fire. I tried to pick up the burning remnants of my essential self, the burning coal which had not yet become ash, forming with it an image of a fowl over a river.

I was not the one leaping over the river, but the image. The quasi-imagined, the thing wished for, the delusional.

This river wasn’t of water, but of the shine of my spiritual metal-sheeting on the desert.

There is no water here, there is no fowl. Only the dream of feathers and the hope of dew. And whoever was standing in this place is not me, not my likeness, not my shadow. And this humidity, this dankness isn’t my dew, and the thing flying about above isn’t my wing.

This person whom you now see, whom you read here isn’t me. He is something else, composed of old words laid erroneously on top of one another. He arrived here, thus, by coincidence, on a sick language’s stretcher. He arrived at illness, at the hospital and laboratories, as he was going to another place, to fields, to shores, to cafés to drink wine and sing.

He thought, sounds were born for singing and not for screaming. For hymns and not for death-rattles. And lanes ask for dancing, not crossing over.

He thought the road isn’t for walking but for sleep. Walking happens by itself, as we’re sitting or sleeping. Crossing over occurs with no movement, with no change of location, without consciousness.

He thought that he came to stay, not to walk away. If he had to be walking away all the time, and to tire out his feet so, in vain, why, then did he come? Walking isn’t sufficient justification for being born. There’s a sin that has happened, no doubt; and it begot a long series of events of sin. In the beginning was not the word, then, nor God, but sin. And sin begot sins. Among which was Being.

How could One of complete perfection create being with this horrific defect? It is said that existence is His image. Where is He, I want to see Him? I want to know if He really is that repulsive.

The sin is our emanation, and our place. It is our language and our speaker, in whose larynx is a bomb about to explode; it is a confused world which does not know how to bury her inhabitants.

I have to cross this bridge. The words I sent to cross in my stead fell into the river, and I am not sleeping so my dream can cross instead of me.

How is it possible to reconcile between staying put and crossing over, between the bridge and falling, between speech and water?

I have to cross over, or I have to have the quill of the deranged so I can draw a new universe, beings coming and going like a breeze, with no parents or children, not inheriting or being inherited.

The quill of the deranged draws the splendid flame for un-summoning a thing, so at it flash everything comes intoxicated with coming and with forgetfulness.

A universe which has a light door, which you touch lightly and it opens; you touch and it locks. In it you are invisible and beautiful. In it you are light, so bearing your essential self doesn’t tire you, and invisible, so you don’t see more of your self than you can bear.

With the quill of the deranged alone, not with the quill of the level-headed . A universe with no brain and not straight. Not green, not yellow and not red. White, so that there is no color bending under the weight of another color in case it passes over it. White, so that there is no reminiscing about colors. So that there is no reminiscing about passage.

A universe of deranged people. Who have no goal if they abide and if they cross over. Deranged people who have no voices, so this ones voice not collide with the voice of that one. So that the courtyard remains empty, silent and beautiful. Deranged people don’t emit sounds. So they don’t have children in space.

So they’ll have no trace or heritage.

With no voices, so that those coming do not inherit the language of those departing. And the one coming would be free of the speech of the one going, and create his language himself, while the one departing would go easily because he leaves no encumbrance.

So that no one be the son of anyone, and there be no forefathers.

A universe that comes to you furtively with out your seeing it, and from which you go furtively, without it seeing you.

In the vision is a companion, another person, glances.
In the vision are guests whose coming you did not expect, when your house is empty. In the vision are duties, shame, guilt.

With the quill of the deranged I draw a deranged universe, good and skinny, sitting under a tree, and laughing, joking with the breeze, smiling and dying.

A universe not drawn with visible ink, but with white. And for that reason it won’t be drawn and will not be.

What do we do with what we have inherited of words? Where do we put all these old people when our house isn’t big enough for us, even?

How do we dig the great cemetery, and where?

The earth and space are crowded with voices.
Where do we dig when there’s no place left? Or must we, with these very words, dig the graves for words?

Words, the amalgam of which, whose children, and whose findlings we are. How can we dig the grave for them and not sleep in it? Or is it that the condition of the existence of that beautiful universe, drawn with the quill of the breeze, is our death?

So let us have, then, the grace of forgetting beauty, the grace of the death of dreams. Time passes lightly in this fashion, without anticipation.

So let us have the grace of despair, the grace of the acceptance of birds left behind, high and far, too far to be on the look out for the feast. Let us have the beauty of prey, the acceptance of being incapable of hunting, the last tinge of beauty belonging to the victim, the smile of the acceptance of blood.

Let’s convert the standard measures, so we hold a dirge for victory and ululations for defeat. Let’s condemn the revolting historical custom, baring the teeth instead of smiling at the time of joy, making drops fall from the eyes as a mark of bliss, as a slogan for the festivities of the great overthrow against creation.

We change the chemistry of spirit, this bad amalgam which has confirmed over the extent of history, the mistakes of its creation.

We make failure a goal, laziness an accomplishment, work into wasting time, agonies into friends, and rejection of life into the pinnacle of living it.

We transmute the chemistry of spirit so the number of enemies will shrink.

We dig the great cemetery and celebrate the festivities of the great overthrow against creation.

We convert our chemistry to plant, so there come to be silent trees inside of us, and delicate grass in place of the screaming blood and the rampant spread of veins. We convert this chemistry to solid, so there be a stone one can sit upon.

We turn ourselves into solid matter! What great victory is this over the law of creation!

In an ancient cloak I wrap words, and take them with me as a companion of the way. The cloak itself which my father carried, the very one which my grandfathers bore.

I say “companion,” and a highway robber comes out of the cloak; I say “mouth” and out comes a bit of ice, I say “fish” and out comes an asp. I say “heart” and out comes a grave, I say “dream” and down dangles a hanged man….

Are words, then, the indication of their opposite? Just no sooner does a hidden desire to speak come out than it becomes another action, with no relation to what was said or to the desire?

Were these words living beings one day, then they died, and we today see nothing but specters of them, and what we articulate is nothing but the ghosts of their baffled spirits?

How have these specters crept across thousands of years through mire and fire to reach me, when I think they have come to build my life? And now am I now speaking death or life? Am I alive with death emerging from my mouth? Or am I dead and what comes out of my mouth is the lisp of life?

With the few stones which are in my mouth I try to build a life after I had laid down many days of death. I try to devise words that are not the indication of their opposite. That, when they emerge from my mouth, they are not a desire to speak but the enactment of the desire. I try, when I say “fish,” that a fish come; when I say “companion,” that my desire become flesh, and I see the companion; and when I say “heart,” that there come to me the flower-seller. But, in order that that be, isn’t it necessary to change the chemistry of words and to change the chemistry of those uttering them as well?

Or is it that language isn’t desire or action. But the scattered fragments remaining of our shattered essential selves?

I search for a safe place for these scattered fragments, a place to keep the fractional sections of myself. But it is neither the whispering nor the screaming, not language nor its spectre. Not yearning, nor remembrance. What is it, then this safe place for the scattered fragments of the essential self, and its bones, except the grave?

It is not whispering because whispering is inaudible in the commotion of the horrific collision of stars and wretched comets with the heart. And it isn’t screams, because all these explosions will not disclose a living being. Neither language nor its spectre, nor yearning, because these have died too.

Is then the safe place only the silent place? The silent and beautiful, because there is no language to reveal its pudenda, because the pudenda only appear with speech? Because there are no pudenda but words that cause them to be. Is beauty, then, nothing but silence? For that reason it isn’t the beauty of speech or the beauty of place, but the beauty of non-being?

Grant me non-being. I want beauty.

There I may hear other words, language arriving softly like a sparrow’s feather, colliding with me, and not hurting me.

The tone of speech arrives with no tone, going into emptiness, the non-existence of gravity, reeling, swimming, free of its weight.

There I may hear wounding sounds, coming from the delusion of primal places, but they arrive missing their blades, missing their meaning, and they pass over me like a light breeze.

When words enter there, their meanings become one, they become the beautiful language, the language of non-being.

There are evenings shivering in speech, ghosts in language, ancient dead.

In throats there are declines, downfalls in the articulations of sounds.

And who pities those fallen on this slippages except the last stones in the valley? The stones which register their arrival with blood.

There is certain death in speech. Obvious blood.
There is a wadi and stones, and bodies thrown down on them.
There is killing, atrocious killing, in language.
We dwell in a massacre.

And whenever we speak, the number of slaughterers increases.

So let’s be silent, then; perhaps the silence will diminish the enemies. Perhaps it will diminish this death. So let’s be silent. Perhaps the stones of the valley will stay white.

In the white silence we put a white chair and sit invisibly. In the lack of seeing is a radiant existence; in the lack of sound is our language.

When we don’t see others, they are truly beautiful. When they don’t speak, we understand them.

In the absence of vision and speech, there is a unified existence, and a unified language.

They are truly wonderful, those absent ones, and the dumb are truly manifest. So are we present and speak for the sake of ugliness and obscurity?

In the courtyard, in the evening, who blows into the glass bottle, who wants to decant something into the bottle of empty time.

Some madman in the courtyard wants to fill the bottle of time with his panting exhalations!

Steam in time, steam in the broken bottle, in the courtyard, in seeing, in sound.

And with this steam on the glass we draw our world, our friends, the shimmering of our glances as they disappear into space.

Steam and a violent gust wind.

Those who are the panting exhalations, descend in scant drops and dissipate.

Those who are the panting exhalations do not live their dampness, and what they breathe is their non-being.

Those who are the panting exhalations are annihilated by the air.

Let it be blind, but not steam. Let it be dumb, not whizzing sound and rattles. And when there are dead in the air, let them have other blood, white blood, the blood of deep sleep with no doors and no balconies to look out at us.

We were, always, trying to mix our spirit with air, so perhaps we could rise up and absent ourselves.

Perhaps there is another physics of movement for our bodies, that we pick up in space.

We were trying to imitate the birds, those whose elements excelled over our elements, not in the victory over the weight of the body alone, but also in the annulment of place and memory and time.

When there are dead in the air, the birds don’t see them. They pass through them, like one who quickly passes through light flying dust particles.

The dead sit with us. We breathe them. We see through them. We don’t just converse with them, we enunciate with their tongue.

The dead do not have independent existences that separated off and absented themselves from us. They are us, our bodies and spirits. When we truly have to put them to death, let’s go quietly toward death. The dead don’t dead, until we dead.

We have sown, over thousands of years, the lack-luster wheat which we now see in our hands. We have sown and harvested, and now is the time of the return, the time of sunset. So let’s acknowledge our lack of luster, and go home. Let’s go back, humbly to our non-being.

There are no other seeds so we can plow this earth anew and sow. So let’s acknowledge the corruption of cultivation, and the corruption of the earth, and let’s pass our last days sitting before these fields, to bid them farewell at our ease.

So let’s acknowledge our failure. Humankind must also finally acknowledge failure.

Was all this history just in order to lay down strata of the walls. The wall of place, the wall of memory, the wall of speech, the wall of dream, the wall of love, the wall of the self, the wall of the other, the wall of presence?...

Were we, all these years, just builders of walls?

The earth’s desolateness was born, so we built our walls in the wild steppes. The earth’s civilization was born, so we built our walls in settled culture. Kings were born, and they ruined our homes and built walls out of them, which they then smeared with blood. The prophets were born and they closed our courtyards, filling them with debris if souls, and trampling the flower of our unbelief, the most beautiful flower on the earth.

So let’s surrender to being swept away, as long as we’ve become rubble. Let’s leave a mark on one of the stones, so that, if we returned, we’ll know where to spend the night.

The tribe of the spirit is departing; she packed up her bags and went, on the final journey.

A journey in which none remained except the last of defeated. Some of her people died; some of her people were killed, and others left her behind. None of her asses or dogs was still walking. The spirit’s tribe has gone extinct.

Whoever was here witnessed that the tribe was beautiful. She would dance under the light of candles and sing, and magic would descend on the guests from her glances. Whoever was here witnessed, but the tribe departed, and even the guests are no longer with us.

The tribe of the spirit bid farewell to the last of her friends crouching in the corner, and absented itself.

And it was up to me, the one crouching in the corner, to record at least the last of her footsteps, the last of her glances, but I failed, even in the recording of this absence.

Neither is presence present, nor can one pick absence up.; One even can’t describe it or write it. How, then, do I write the text of absence?

How does the one incapable of presence describe his absence? How is he incapable even of being absent? And those crouching in the corner – is it up to them just to witness non-being in silence?

We set up a jam-packed table for non-being, from which neither non-being eats, nor do we!

But isn’t existence itself the rich meal from which no one eats as well?

The tribe of the spirit departed hungry. What it had believed to be its food was bait for it, its fishhook. What it had believed was its spirit and its abiding duty, was its poison. The tribe of the spirit died poisoned, died like fish hanging over water. The tribe of the spirit died in air.

The tribe died; so let’s go on walking. We drag with us our blood-let-spirited mules, dead, but we have to drag them along, not for freightage, not to hold on to remembrance, but because there’s nothing to do on the road.

We walk and entertain ourselves with dragging the mules.

How do we change our chemistry? How do we change our physics? How do we find a place, a time? How do we become present? How do we live? And if all of this is impossible, what do we do, how do we be absent?

I grasp the first delusion which put me here, and I put it in front of me. I divest it of the pretext of speech, and the pretext of doing, and the pretext of compounding me of its elements. I decompose the elements of its delusion, and recompose it with the elements of my delusion. I make its subject become my predicate. I wipe away its desire for me to end, and draw my desire.

With the beautiful, light delusion, I alter my chemistry and physics. Like the beautiful, light delusion, I become light and beautiful. There is no burden on my shoulders, nor on my spirit. For this reason I can fly, I can rise, I can have no shadow bearing down with something under it, and no color weighing on any other color.

I alter my physics and chemistry with delusion, and fly.

So let the wings flutter and rise, above an earth in which I no longer have a participation or place. Wings defiant of seeing, and not begging air to fly. Outside the physics of the eye and the chemistry of space. Hurled with a terrible insanity and a more terrible desire that had been repressed for millions of years and now burst forth. A history exploding, a creation in its entirety, desires which I thought were merely little things in the heart – and here they are galaxies!

I go up high with no speech, with no look, with no message. Speech and sight have also been hit by the explosion, and their constituents have changed. The mouth and ear are no longer prerequisites of speech, and the eye is no longer the perquisite of looking. Letters are no longer prerequisites of writing, and a receiver and transmitter are not prerequisites of language. Language, and eye and ear have mixed with air. A terrible insanity has swept away everything; even opposites have mixed together, and colors and distances have blended. So there’s no longer color or distance, nor round nor rectangular, for everything has come to be in the focal point of the circle, no beginning and no end, no enemies and no friends; the slain embraced their murderers, so there are no dead and no living, everything has descended to the focal point of the circle, in a single ring, and flown.

Everything becomes the same, here in my head. All the elements became one, people, plants, animals, dreams and delusions. Everything has become equal, the living and the dead, the present and the absent, the cold and hot, the one boring through, and the one disappearing. I pulled them apart and put them together and arranged them. Their creator didn’t arrange them completely, but I did. My delusion got the better of the creator and my delusion overcame the earth.

I fly lightly, triumphing over the weight of my elements, and the weight of history, and the weight of place, and the weight of things. I fly with the elements of my desire: with the absence of desire, and the absence of elements. Lightly over the earth, in which I no longer have participation. An earth which I overcame with my delusion, by changing its elements, by divesting it of its gravity, and turning it by my gravity, making it an astral body in my head, not among the celestial spheres.

I fly triumphantly over creation.

I swim in space over forgotten lands, over a humanity whose heir I am no longer, and who are no longer my descendants. I fly and look at the desert below me, at the absence of places, at the impossibility of the flyer to descend once more.

I fly, fly, and go far off.

I become a speck effaced…and disappear.

Translated by: Clarissa C. Burt
Literati Magazine

Wadih Sa'adeh was born in the village of Shabtin, in northern Lebanon. In his own words he describes it as "a place were the people, fields, trees, rocks, birds and animals were one family. Nature was part of our being. The soil and the people were one. I grew up among farmers who were gentle and dour. I grew up among opposites - the sterility of rocks, the fertility of fields. The fields and rocks sometimes seemed to me to be the secret faces of the people I lived among in that village."
When he was about twelve years old he moved to Beirut. here everything was much different from the village and depressed him, it was at this time that he began to seek solace in writing poetry. Perhaps it was through the medium of poetry that he was seeking all that he felt was lost.
Though his soul was deeply rooted in his native land the war in Lebanon, a search for social justice and regard for human rights had him seeking a home with his family in many places - England, France, Cyprus, Greece, till finally he emigrated to Australia in 1988. Once again his own words best describe the pain of parting from this much loved soil of his birth. "Even so, that lost place remains firmly in my heart, for it is the place of my childhood. I know it is a paradise to which I can never return. When I write poetry, it is to keep this paradise alive in my mind. Poetry is not just an expression of the past, it is an act of creation, a dream of renewal, the only way for me to recreate myself as I would wish to be."
In his book A Secret Sky he writes about the people who died in the war in Lebanon or had to leave the country of their birth and a glimpse of a tragedy of his homeland.

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