The Hasteners

A poem by Nizar Qabbani

The last walls of shame fell,
And we rejoiced...
And we danced...
And we were blessed with the signing of the peace of the cowards...
Nothing terrifies us any more.
And nothing shames us.
For the veins of pride have dried within us.


Fell...
For the fiftieth time our virginity...
Without being shaken...or crying...
Or being terrified with the sight of blood...
We entered the age of haste...
And stood in lines, like sheep before the guillotine
We ran...and panted..
And raced to kiss the boots of the murderers..


For fifty years they starved our children
And at the end of the fast, they threw to us...
An onion..


Grenada fell
For the fiftieth time
From the Arabs' hands.
History fell from the Arabs' hands.
The pillars of the spirit fell...and the branches of the tribe...
All the songs of heroism fell...
Seville fell...
Antioch fell...
`Ammoriah fell.
Hittin fell without a fight.
Mary fell in the hands of the militias
And there is no man to rescue the heavenly symbol
And there is no manliness...


The last of our favorites fell
In the hands of the Romans, then what are we defending?
Not a single concubine remains in our palace...
Who makes coffee... and sex...
Then what are we defending??


No more remains in our hands...
A single Andulus that we possess.
They stole the doors,
And the walls,
And the wives, and the children,
And the olives, and the oil,
And the streets' cobbles.
They stole Jesus, son of Mary,
While he was still a suckling.
They stole from us the memory of the lemons...
And the apricots... and the mint.
And the lanterns of the mosques...


They left in our hands a can of sardines
Named (Gaza)...
A dried bone called (Jericho)
An inn called Palestine,
Without a roof and without pillars...
They left us a body without bones
And a hand without fingers...


There remain no ruins over which we cry
How can a nation cry...
From whom they took away the tears??


After this secret flirtation, in Oslo
We came out barren...
They granted us a homeland smaller than a grain of wheat...
A homeland we swallow without water
Like pills of aspirin!!...


After fifty years...
We sit now, on the destroyed land.
We have no shelter... like thousands of dogs!!...


After fifty years...
We do not find a homeland to dwell in
Except the mirage.
It is not a reconciliation...
That reconciliation which, like a dagger, was thrust into us...
It is an act of rape!!..


What use is the haste?
What use is the haste?
When the conscience of the people remains alive
Like the fuse of a bomb...
All the signatures of Oslo will not equal
A mustard seed!!...


How we dreamed of a green peace.
And a white crescent.
And a blue sea.
And spread sails...
And all of a sudden we found ourselves
In a dung heap!!..


Who will ask them
About the peace of the cowards??
Not the peace of the strong and able.
Who will ask them??
About the peace of selling by installments,
And renting by installments...
And the deals...
And the merchants... and the exploiters?
Who will ask them?
About the peace of the dead...
They silenced the street...
And assassinated all questions...
And all the questioners...


And we were married without love...
To the female who one day ate our children...
And chewed our livers...
We took her on a honeymoon.
And we drank... and we danced...
And we remembered all that we retain of the love poetry.
Then we begot unfortunately retarded children
They have the form of frogs...
And we were expelled to the sidewalks of sorrow,
without a country to embrace...
Or a child!!


There was no Arab dancing at the wedding
Or Arab food.
Or Arab singing.
Or Arab shame
The sons of the country were absent from the wedding parade.


Half of the dowry was in dollars...
The diamond ring was in dollars...
The court clerk's fee was in dollars...
The wedding cake was a gift from America...
And the wedding spread, and the flowers, and the candles,
And the Marines' music...
All were made in America.


The wedding was finished... and Palestine was not present at the
rejoicing.
But she saw her picture broadcasted over all channels...
And saw her tear traversing the ocean's waves...
Towards Chicago... and Jersey... and Miami
While like a slaughtered bird she cried
This wedding is not my wedding...
This dress is not my dress...
This shame is not my shame...
Never... America...
Never... America...
Never... America...

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