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Saadi Youssef

(Basra)

Koofa


We did not name it so that it would become a city.
We came to it thirsty
starved
limping on blazing sands,
blinded by sun glow.
We cut the world from Mecca to the palace of Naaman.
We cut the world with a sword
until bone protruded through our hands and whitened.
When we reached water we said
let us rest here
and watch the bank
where water pours, flows, and pours.
We dipped our swords in it.
Trembling, we sheathed our hands
and prayed.
We did not name it so that it would become a city.
We built nothing except the mosque
the wall
and the hut of Ali.
But the first century is no longer the first.
Here we are now leaving it
H
U
N
G
from
the gun barrels of tanks.

Translated by Khaled Mattawa

Submitted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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