Monday, March 30, 2009

Mahmoud Darwish's "A Ready Script"/one of his last poems...

"A Ready Script" by Mahmoud Darwish, trans. Fady Joudah

Let's presume now that we,
the enemy and I,
fell from the air
into a hole . . .
what might happen?

A ready script:
In the beginning we wait for luck,
the rescuers might find us here
and toss a safety rope our way,
and he'd say: me first
and I'd say: me first
and in vain we'd curse
each other out
before the rope reaches us

The script says
I, a selfish optimist, will
whisper to myself without wondering
what my enemy whispers to himself

He and I
are partners in one trap
and in the probability game,
we wait for the rescue rope
so we can part ways

by the edge of the hole - the chasm,
and go to what remains
for us of life
and war... if we
are able to survive

He and I
are frightened
and don't exchange any words
about fear, or other than fear
since we are foes . . .

What might happen if a snake
were to appear to us here
out of one of the scenes and hiss
before swallowing the two
frightened ones, he and I?

The script says:
We will partner up in killing the snake
to survive together
or alone . . .

Yet we will share a phrase of gratitude
and congratulations on what
we have accomplished together
even if it was instinct, and not us,
that defended itself, and instinct
has no ideology

And we did not converse:
I remembered the law of communication
over mutual frivolity
when he once told me:
What has become mine is mine
and what is yours
is yours
and mine . . .

And with time, and time is sand and soap bubbles,
boredom and silence
broke what's between us, and he asked me: What now?
I said: Not much, let's drain the possibilities
He said: Where will hope come from?
I said: From the air
He said: Did you forget I buried you in a hole like this?
I said: I almost did, because an alluring worn out
tomorrow pulled me by the hand . . .
He said: Will you negotiate with me now?
I said: Over what now in this hole, this grave?
He said: Over your share and mine
of our void and our mutual grave
I said: What's the use? Time has run away
from us, and destiny doesn't follow the rule,
the murdered and his murderer sleep in this hole,
and another poet must see this script through
to its end!

[published by The American Poetry Review, Nov/Dec 2008]

No comments: