Taha Adnan
Taha Adnan
Your smile is sweeter than the national flag


                        To Sanaa


Your mobile’s dead

your landline’s not responding;

on Facebook your picture’s gone away,

the national flag draped down

over your smile,

over the gleam in your eyes.


I move along the wall: your wall,

I scrutinize it, clicking and updating,

I brush from it the dust of grief

and stillness.

The clouds above the country could clear;

the wall might split open

on your captive face.


As though it truly mattered

I brooded fretfully and weighed it up:

has revolution swept the land?

Has spring, a whirlwind, passed through

for your absence to flourish

in autumn?

Or have I missed the train

to remain right here:

an indifferent witness?


I lit up Al-Jazeera

where coddled Arabs

set revolutions ablaze

in sister states,

frame hearts

and impetuous scenarios

and compose ad lib laments

sung by a turbaned chorus

to the strains of an orchestra coached

to mourn.


Nothing new in Arabism:

killing is the order of the day

and blood up to the knees.


There, on the revolution’s stage

tragedy is comedy,

rulers vampires,

and the people a clutch of fools

careering after a tattered rag

they think a flag

and like a crowd of extras

chanting: “The people want . . .”


With trembling fingers I pluck up

the remote

and put out the revolution

that your smile might flutter in my mind

and I rally, sleepwalking, to your banner.

You are my flag and my revolution

and I am your loving people,

your beloved leader.


I take up the receiver

(the heart wants it so):

your mobile’s dead

and your landline’s ringing,

Ringing . . . but no answer.


On Facebook

the homeland’s colours hide

your smile.


Your smile is sweeter

than spring,

than all the seasons;

your smile is more magnificent

than the crowds in full cry,

more radiant than the people when they rise up

and sing, “My country”;

your smile, a joy

at every gathering,

your smile, God’s protection settled

in my heart,

your smile –

O beat of my heart –

exalted above every banner,

sweeter than the national flag.



Translated by Robin Moger



Published in Arabic on www.kikah.com


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