If I were told: By evening you will die.
So what will you do until then?
I would look at my wristwatch,
I’d drink a glass of juice
bite an apple,
contemplate at length an ant that has found it’s food,
Then look at my wristwatch.
There’d be time left to shave my beard
and dive in a bath, obsess:
“There must be an adornment for writing,
so let it be a blue garment.”
I’d sit until noon alive at my desk
but wouldn’t see the trace of color in the words,
white, white, white …
I’d prepare my last lunch
pour wine in two glasses: One for me
and one for the one who will come without appointment,
then I’d take a nap between two dreams.
But my snoring would wake me …
so I’d look at my wristwatch:
and there’d be time for reading.
I’d read a chapter in Dante and half of a mu’allaqah
and see how my life goes from me
to the others, but I wouldn’t ask who
would fill what’s missing in it.
That’s it, then?
That’s it, that’s it.
Then I’d comb my hair and throw away the poem …
this poem, in the trash,
and put the latest fashion in Italian shirts,
parade myself in an entourage of Spanish violins,
and walk to the grave!
– Mahmoud Darwish, a Palestinian, is one of the most prominent poets writing in Arabic today. Fady Joudah is a physician, a poet and the translator of The Butterfly’s Burden, which compiles three full volumes of the Darwish’s recent works.