Death Retouched

Salaman Masalha
Salman Masalha
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Palestinians attend the funeral of two women and eight children of the Abu Hatab family in Gaza City, who were killed after an Israeli air strike, Saturday.
Salaman Masalha
Salman Masalha

All around pain is aflame
From the desert to the sea.
Here my blood is now fair game,
This land, an abyss for me

I shall not raise my voice above
In broken-hearted supplications.
In the place to which I’ve come
My tongue utters devastation.

What does today here hold for me
As my feet plod through the dust?
In my heart – a fading dream
That a tomorrow might yet come.

If only warmth could now be bidden,
But ice has paralyzed my breath.
A widow mourns with orphaned children:
The retouched picture is of death.

Will war, as captive of the past,
Ever slumber? I can’t tell.
I am surfeited at last,
Between the gallows and the hell,

With writing peace in song and verse
Plucking strings of moral lyres.
This dance is just a glorified curse
By capering naked liars.

English version by Vivian Eden
First published in Hebrew in Haaretz, May 16, 2021