And They Don’t Ask – Mahmoud Darwish

And they don’t ask: What comes after death? 

Though more intimate with the book of Paradise 

than with accounts of the earth, they’re preoccupied 

with another question: What shall we do 

before this death? Near to life, we live 

and we don’t – as if life were parceled out 

from a desert where the haggling gods of property 

settle their disputes. 

We live beside an ancient dust. 

Our lives burden the historian’s night: 

‘Though I make them disappear, they come back to me 

from absence.’ 

Our lives burden the artist: 

‘I draw them and become one of them, veiled in mist.’ 

Our lives burden the General: 

‘How can a ghost still bleed?’ 

We shall be what we want to be. And we want 

a bit of life, not for just anything – but to honor 

the resurrection after our death. 

Unintentionally, they speak the philosopher’s words: 

‘Death means nothing to us: if we are then he isn’t. 

Death means nothing to us: if he is then we are not.’ 

And they have rearranged their dreams 

and sleep standing. 

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