Iraqi poet: Faliha Hassan
Girl in a Water Taxi, Basra, IraqAlan Pogue © 1998
At The Margin of The War
"Those are stars,"
says the child,
as airplanes distort the face of the sky.
"I used to rest my head,”
his sister says, "upon his kind arms.
I don't remember how we
found the bones of the murdered one
who was my Daddy who
was defending us on this mirage-earth,
asking a shadow; how did this begin?"
The ash women cry,
"These are the portents of those lost
in the darkness of the prisons."
One of them calls for help,
"I didn't find him.
He left without a helmet,
and nothing distinguishes him
but his heart.
He was like my country
too great to bear.
They returned many corpses
but not his."
"These are the marks of a faded morning,"
says the woman who, still
tidying the bed blankets,
dreams he may come in one longing night,
lights a match,
holds back grief.
"These are the memories of past years,"
says one who has just come.
"To whom has my age been sold as wood fire
for a fire that has raged for twenty-three years
These are mirrors for my hollow life.”
Birds cry as they follow an Apache squadron,
"Where are the windows?
Where are the windows?
We want air!"
Translated by: Soheil Najm
Poetic editing in English: Susan Bright
Faliha Hassan, born in Najaf (Middle of Iraq) 1978. Published books of poetry: Because I Am a Girl, A Visit to the Museum of the Shadow, Five Addresses for the Friend of the Sea and Even after a While.