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From Anas Al-Yaziji to his fiancé,
Shaima Abu Al-Ouf, whose body he
recovered after two days of searching


Hamed Ashour

Well, Shaima,

I love you so very much, and more

and again, I am under attack

since we hung up the telephone three days ago,

when five missiles hit your family’s house.

Since the dress rehearsal and the henna night,

since our last words together, our state of happiness.

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Since Eid and ululation,

since neighbors, friends, and wedding dates,

since our first postponed child and your first stubbornness,

I say, “I only want one.”


you say, “no, I want a clan.”

I love you so much, and more, and again I’m under attack,

my hand in my pocket, my mind in its place.

I say, “O, Shaima,

a warplane has passed by,

the bell and the minaret have fallen.”


and you say, “it is alright, the doves remain.”

I say, “they have smashed the window.”

You say, “that’s how light’s freed”

I love you so much.

But now I am under attack, as always,

and under rubble.

Traders and bastards will come, attend conferences,

auction the land and its last few survivors,

form committees, reconstruct towers, and rebuild ruined houses.


And our house, my love,

our little home, we built stone by stone before bills and debt drowned us

and quarrels overwhelmed us - the color of sofas and of walls

and where in our backyard we would plant the grape’s seedlings.


We will get back the streets,

the minarets, the gardens, electricity and water pipelines

I say, once the ceasefire takes hold, who would bring the blood back to Shaima’a!

We will get back the streets,

the minarets and yards, the electrical lines and water pipes.

I say, “the bombing’s stopped, but who’ll restore Shaima’s blood?”


Hamed Ashour

Your back, which you unfold and fold

like a morning paper.

Your back, which you feed to lonely and hungry seats.

Your stiff back,

your high wall.


Your back

is an extension of the land,

a scarecrow in the field,

my street lamp.

Your back, taut like a chord,

tender like a tune, fragile like a child’s finger.

Your back, made of water and bread.


Your back is straight like a minaret

and bends like a grapevine.

Your back on which the war fell asleep,

cities settled down, and from which soldiers returned.

Your back against which I leant mine and cried.

Your back, when you took everything from me,

and then gave me your back.


Translated by Tayseer Abu Odeh 

If I Had a Child

Hamed Ashour

The grieving grandmother says:

my girls are young green sprouts

who married two lumberjacks.

I advised the elder,

“this is the branch you wag

in the world’s face

like a middle finger,

so pierce it with holes and call it a flute.”


To the little spoiled one, I said,

reading the sun’s braid over her trunk,

“you will give birth a bit early

to a throne on which kings will alternate.

People will live and people will die

and your son grows up, so nothing’s worth worrying about.”


As for the tallest daughter,

habituated to being lonely,

she could wake just before labor,

and beget a bed stretched out by the wall,

which it sleeps by, hand in hand.

My lovelorn daughter,

lured by a lumberjack to his bed,

is searching for a fifth foot

for her own daughter, the long-waiting table.


And as for me,

I am the long-grieving grandmother.

I wish for a child I would call door,

with whom I could shut myself firmly in.

So no one would know of my heart’s tremors

when I remember that once I was a forest.

Translated by Tayseer Abu Odeh 

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