The Trial – Nizar Qabbani

The East receives my songs, some praise, some curse 
To each of them my gratitude I bear 
For I’ve avenged the blood of each slain woman 
and haven offered her who is in fear. 

Woman’s rebellious heart I have supported 
ready to pay the prize – content to die 
if love should slay me, for I am love’s champion 
and if I ceased, then I would not be I. 

Poem – The  Trial 

During his great speech the prosecutor 

kept piercing me with his yellow index finger 

I’m afraid I didn’t appear self-assured 

unintentionally I put on a mask of fear and depravity 

like a rat caught in a trap an informer a fratricide 

the reporters were dancing a war dance 

slowly I burned at a stake of magnesia 
all of this took place in a small stifling room 

the floor creaked plaster fell from the ceiling 

I counted knots in the boards holes in the wall faces 

the faces were alike almost identical 

policemen the tribunal witnesses the audience 

they belonged to the party of those without any pity 

and even my defender smiling pleasantly 

was an honorary member of the firing squad 
in the first row sat an old fat woman 

dressed up as my mother with a theatrical gesture she raised 

a handkerchief to her dirty eyes but didn’t cry 

it must have lasted a long time I don’t know even how long 

the red blood of the sunset was rising in the gowns of the judges 
the real trial went on in my cells 

they certainly knew the verdict earlier 

after a short rebellion they capitulated and started to die one after the other 

I looked in amazement at my wax fingers 
I didn’t speak the last word and yet 

for so many years I was composing the final speech 

to God to the court of the world to the conscience 

to the dead rather than the living 

roused to my feet by the guards 

I managed only to blink and then 

the room burst out in healthy laughter 

my atoptive mother laughed also 

the gavel banged and this really was the end 
but what happened after that – death by a noose 

or perhaps a punishment generously chained to a dungeon 

I’m afraid there is a third dark solution 

beyond the limits of time the senses and reason 
therefore when I wake I don’t open my eyes 

I clench my fingers don’t lift my head 

breathe lightly because truly I don’t know 

how many minutes of air I still have left