Adonis Diaries

Trailing a butterfly (book review, part 1)

Posted on: December 29, 2008

Trailing a butterfly (December 29, 2008)


Note:  The death toll in Gaza among the Palestinians has reached 350, the injured over 1000 and climbing steadily by the minutes. The World leaders are mute: they are waiting for the genocide to be complete. They don’t want another population reclaiming a land and chasing the original people out for a homeland.


I will liberally translate a few pieces from the diary of late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.  The diaries of “Trailing a Butterfly” are practically poems written in prose style from summer 2006 to summer 2007.


The roar of silence

I listen to silence.  I am hearing the cries of the first spirits as they found the original caves; the thump of the apple on a rock in the garden of God; the moaning of passion between the original males and females, not knowing what they are doing.  I can hear the secret negotiations among the ancient Gods; the whispering of the prophets with their wives as night falls.  I can hear the complaints of Emperors of their boredom; the music accompanying the ceremonies of the Secret sexual rituals.  I can hear the confusion of the chimpanzee as he jumped from a tree and started his first biped attempts, as he sat on the throne of the first tribe. I can hear the curses between Sarah and Hager.  If we listened to silence we would feel less the need to talk.


            He said “I am scared”

He shouted “I am scared”. The walls of closed in room reverberated with “I am scared” and every piece of furniture kept repeating “I am scared” for a long time.  He shouted “Stop it” but “I am scared” was the dominant cry in the vibrating air.  He went out to the street. He got afraid of a broken tree, of a military jeep screeching by.  He wanted to return to the safety of his room.  He was afraid that he forgot his keys, he was afraid that the electricity was out, he was afraid that he might slip on the staircase. He inserted the key and was afraid that the door would not open; he was afraid that someone might be sitting on his chair but he felt safe now.  He looked in the mirror and it was his face. He listened to silence and the walls had stopped repeating “I am scared”.  For some mysterious reasons he didn’t feel scared.


            I am absent

I live here for the past ten years. Tonight, I sit on a plastic chair in the tiny garden; I am mesmerized by a red rock.  I am counting the eleven stair steps to my room. On the right side a large fig tree overshadows a prune tree. To the left side stands a Lutheran Church.  By the staircase a rusted pail hangs out of an open ancient well; the few scrawny flowers have to content with the night dews.  I live here with 40 tenants; we are watching a live piece of theater, totally improvised, a very few in words of prohibition to cruise, to roam, to walk; a curfew on wandering about.  It is an improvised one act, sort of an ongoing composition, like our life. I look in the open window of my room and I love to improvise this sentence “Is anyone there?”  In the last act, everything will remain exactly the same and at its place, but I will fail to be in my room.  There got to be one absent, a vacant body: the location is getting too crowded.

            How far is far?

How far is far? How many are the passages and alleys? We walk toward the meaning of all of this and we keep walking.  The mirage is the guide book of the confused, to the far away sources; illusion is the negation and the hero.  We are walking, and in the desert mature our wisdom; we are not saying that the wandering is complete.  Our wisdom demands a light song for our hope not to get tired.

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December 2008

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