Mourid Barghouti
Mourid Barghouti
Four Poems


Transparent, crystalline and frail,
like the slumber of woodcutters,
serene, auspicious,  portending things to come,
the morning drizzle does not conceal
these three cypresses on the slope.

Their particulars details belie their sameness
their radiance confirms it.

I said:
I wouldn’t dare to keep looking at them
there is a beauty that takes away our daring
there are times when courage fades away

The clouds rolling / scudding moving high above
change the form of the cypresses.

The birds flying to wards alternative skies
change the resonance of the cypresses

The tiled line behind them
fixes the greenness of the cypresses
and there are trees whose only fruit is greenness.

Yesterday, in my sudden cheerfulness,
I saw their immortality.

Today, in my sudden sorrow,
I saw the axe.

From the collection The Pomegranate Flowers, 2002


It’s also fine to die in our beds
on a clean pillow
and among our friends.

It’s fine to die, once,
our hands crossed on our chests
empty and pale
with no scratches, no chains, no banners,
and no petitions.

It’s fine to have an undustful death,
no holes in our shirts,
and no evidence in our ribs.

It’s fine to die
with a white pillow, not the pavement, under our cheeks,
our hands resting in those of our loved ones
surrounded by desperate doctors and nurses,
with nothing left but a graceful farewell,
paying no attention to history,
leaving this world as it is,
hoping that, someday, someone else
will change it.

From the collection People In Their Nights, 1999


A poet sits in a coffee shop, writing:
the old lady
thinks he is writing a letter to his mother,
the young woman
thinks he is writing a letter to his girlfriend,
the child
thinks he is drawing,
the businessman
thinks he is considering a deal,
the tourist
thinks he is writing a postcard,
the employee
thinks he is calculating his debts,
the secret policeman
walks slowly, towards him.

From the collection Poems of the Pavement, 1980


With small shovels
and plastic buckets
the kids
in their colourful clothes
are building strong sand castles.

They throw balls in a game without rules
they shout, call names, laugh,
get scratched in short inevitable clashes
Complaints are also inevitable:
“Why did you leave me alone?”
“Why don’t you leave me alone?”

They squat on the boards, in a flash,
then stand upright, in a flash,
to make the swing fly higher and higher.

They invent their sudden demands:
a glass of water,
a cry for help, soon forgotten,
a napkin
a look at the miracle about to take place,
“Watch what I am going to do now!
“Watch me jump!”

In the half circle of benches around the park,
on wooden seats
that have almost lost their cumin-coloured paint   
mothers and grandmothers in their drab clothes
turn up their collars
to avoid a gust of cold wind
or with silent fingers
straighten their wrinkled worries.

And from time to time
trying to overcome their boredom
they exchange the latest news
in low voices.

They send their kids a caring smile
an encouraging look
or an instructive gesture.

A big-bellied cat with heavy steps
moves around, as if lost, looking for something.
A string of birds, silent, moves slowly
like a column of prisoners of war.

Dark clouds pile up above the scene
a small sun keeps on trying

A loud weeping
comes from the sand kingdom,
A kid shouts in the face of everyone:
the castle has fallen

Translated by the poet and Radwa Ashour

From the collection The Pomegranate Flowers, 2002