Writing the Palestinian Nakba:Ghassan Zaqtan

All week this week, I am posting poems by Palestinian writers.  Today’s poem is by Ghassan Zaqtan.  It is translated by Fady Joudah, and it appeared in Jadaliyya.~~

Will They Believe


Will the children forgive the generation
trampled by horses of war, exile and preparation for departure?


Will they think of us as we were:
ambushes in ravines
we’d shake our jealousy
and carve trees into the earth’s shirt
to sit under
we the factional fighters
who’d shoo the clouds of war out of their carriages
and peer around our eternal siege
or catch the dead
like sudden fruit fallen on a wasteland?


Will the children forgive what we were:
missile shepherds and masters of exile and chaotic celebration
whenever a neighboring war gestured to us
we’d rise
to set up in its braids a place
good for love and residence?


The bombing rarely took a rest
the missile launchers rarely returned unharmed
we rarely picked flowers for the dead or went on
with our lives
If only that summer had
given us a bit of time’s space
before our mad departure


Will they believe?


* * *

[Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah. From Ghassan Zaqtan, Butulat al-Ashya’ (The Heroism of Things) (Beirut: Dar al-Kalimah, 1988)]


About Taline Voskeritchian

Writing teacher at Boston University; translator (from Arabic and Armenian); prose writer; occasional editor; incurable wanderer.
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2 Responses to Writing the Palestinian Nakba:Ghassan Zaqtan

  1. Dear Taline

    Stumbled onto your blog today on searching Google for Ohannes Salibian. Wonderful blog. It goes straight into my RSS feed into the “Personal” folder.

    Love from the Southern Hemisphere
    Noric Dilanchian

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