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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Night Unlike Others: The Bombing and the Brink Part III

III. A longish poem called A Night Unlike Others is one notable example of this refusal to nominate, wave banners, or confine the particular within its particularity.
It starts like this;

His finger almost touches the bell,
the door, unbelievably slowly,

He enters.

He goes to his bedroom.
Here they are:
his picture next to his little bed,
his schoolbag, in the dark,
He sees himself sleeping
between two dreams, two flags.

He knocks on the doors of all the rooms
-he almost knocks. But he does not.
They all wake up:
“He’s back!
By God, he’s back!” they shout,
but their clamour makes no sound.

They stretch their arms to hug Mohammed
but do not reach his shoulders.”

The poem goes on with chatter between the reunited family, who “remain shadows and never meet.” It ends:

They said.
He said.
Without a voice.

The doorbell never rang,
the visitor was not in his little bed,
they have not seen him.

The following morning neighbours whispered:
it was all a delusion.
His schoolbag was here
marked by the bullet holes,
and his stained notebooks.

Those who came to give their condolences
had never left his mother.

Moreover, how could a dead child
come back, like this, to his family,
under the shelling
of such a very long

© Mourid Barghouti translated by Radwa Ashour

IV. Despite being the most declamatory of Barghouti’s poems in translation, there is no accusation, nothing that must be withdrawn. Guy Mannes-Abbott's introduction to Mourid Barghouti's poetry, and to the Arc collection Midnight, continues tomorrow.

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