Marwan Makhoul
Selected Poems

Poems continued from Banipal 45 – Writers from Palestine, p 159


Beit Hanoun?
I heard on the news
that an artisan baker has come
to distribute bread
on the back of fresh artillery,
and I also heard
that one of his loaves feeds
at least twenty children
and is so warm it burns, and solid
like a randomly targeted shell.
They said
the children woke up early that day
not to go to school
but to the local youth club
opposite the town’s playground
that in summer is big enough for two massacres
and a certain hope, the hope to live.
I also heard
that when they were on their way
they made light of their wounds
and poured blood on the corners
till blood took the colour of the streets
and feelings.
When I saw what I saw on the screen
I thought I was dreaming
or the TV was dreaming the impossible made real.
I never imagined, Beit Hanoun,
that you’d mean anything to me
what with all the fun I’m having
like being busy with friends discussing
whether wine in the bottle
ferments or not.
I never knew you’d mean anything to me,
even something small
something small, Beit Hanoun.
Hello . . . ?
Hello . . . ?
Beit Hanoun?
Can you hear me?
I think the phone’s not working
or is perhaps asleep,
it is very late after all.
Never mind, let it go.
I’ve nothing better to do
than catch up with my brothers shading themselves
by the axed trunk of Arab solidarity.
Goodbye, Beit Hanoun.


The homeland having fallen down a well
and after sixty years, it’s up to us
to raise the rope a little, then let it fall again,
for only thus will hope learn patience.


There are things I don’t understand,
not being an Israeli
and not being entirely Palestinian.


My country is the rape victim
I will marry.


My grandfather told me: Palestine is an irregular verb in the past.
My father said: No, it’s in the present tense.
I say, and a plane has just landed nearby: My grandfather’s right
and my father too.

Translated by Raphael Cohen for Banipal 45 – Writers from Palestine

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