Sunday, February 22, 2009

Elegy for a Young Stone Thrower

Olives and Popies copyright Khairat Al-Saleh

I wrote this poem several years ago. It is about the death of a child of Palestine. Many children died during the Intifada and many children died recently in Gaza. I think our genes are programmed to protect children and not to accept their death. I am dreaming of a day when the Palestinian children will have the chance to grow up normally like all other children, to laugh and play and watch children's TV, as they ehave xpressed so eloquently during the war.

I died in fair Jerusalem this spring, mother

I took a great leap not knowing I could Jump so high

Aiming my stones at that terrible darkness

Which crept too close to the ancient walls, mother

Too close to the hallowed groves

O too too close to the golden dome.

The light went out for a moment

Then I was lifted to the orchard of God.

Don't cry for me, mother

I felt your warm breath on my brow

In my hair

As my heart exploded in the crimson space

Hurling rivulets of anemones into the air.

But I rose in peace

And a voice cried

Behold, Christ has risen.

For the first time in my life, mother

I can hear the luminous song of the olives

For they do hum and sway with ancient murmurings,

And the earth, mother

The earth which they have taken away from us

Feels vibrant and soft as it digs down my roots

Through years far far beyond my years

Years I have never learnt how to count.

O mother, ecstasy fills my heart for I am so ancient

With the ancientness of this beloved earth.

I can sleep and dream now.

I died in fair Jerusalem at the intersection of two springs

To live, mother, for once to live in a freedom

Which the shadow of the gun will not desecrate.

I was born to a lost inheritance, mother

My orphaned soil hanging like a curse around my neck.

I was born the despised

The dispossessed

The outcast.

Had I known that a stone throw

Was all that stood between me and my birthright

I would have taken the high leap

Even before I had learnt how to walk

I feel proud mother, and when I walk,

I glide like a queen.

I hear the laughter of numerous children

in the regal olives chanting

Peace Peace Peace

And at dawn mother

Of every undying morning

I join the choir of the ringed doves

To weave a song of my longing

Around the golden Dome.

Don't cry for me mother

For I am content

I am at home.

But if you need to know where to find me

It must be in the spring mother

It must be among the red anemones and poppies

And it must be when all the guns are silent

Poem by Khairat Al-Saleh

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dedicated to the Children of Gaza

Cosmic(detail), by Khairat Al-Saleh

Petals, By Firas El-Saleh

I know that in the spring of the year they shall rise in the sap
I know that in the small reds of the anemonies they shall sink into the rising sun