Treasure Island

Mahmoud Darwish

((13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008 / Palestinian)

Bread


From early dusk the day was inscrutable
The sun shows up, lazy as usual
A mineral ash, eastward, blocks the horizon. . .
In the veins of clouds
In household pipes
The water was hard. . .
A desperate autumn in the life of Beirut
Death spread from the palace
to the radio to the salesman of sex
To the vegetable market
What is it wakes you now?
Exactly five o'clock
And thirty people killed
Go back to sleep
It is a time of death and a time of fire
Ibrahim was a painter
He painted water
He was a deck for lilies to grow on
And terrible if woken up at dawn
But his children were spun of lilac and sunlight
They wanted milk and a loaf of bread
Inscrutable day. My face
A telegram made of wheat in a field of bullets
What is it wakes you now
Exactly five o'clock
And thirty people killed
Bread never had this taste before
This blood this whispering texture this grand apprehension complete essence this voice this time this colour this art this human energy this secret this magic this unique movement from the cavern of origin to
the gang war to the tragedy of Beirut
At exactly five o'clock
Who was dying?
Into his hands Ibrahim took the last color
Color of the secrets in the elements
A painter and a rebel he painted
A land teeming with people, oak trees, and war
Ocean waves, working people, street vendors, countryside
And he paints
In the miracle of bread

Submitted: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Edited: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

(Written for Ibrahim Marzouk, a painter, killed on the morning of Wednesday, October 8, 1975, as he was buying bread at a Beirut bakery, one of many victims of the Lebanese civil war.)

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