I was always The passenger Who made the boat more likely to sink
I was born A little before my due date On the night when controversy raged About everything A release conditional on obeying the terms I was born deceived and still am deceived At the moment when Satan was drinking a toast to his third victory On the night when knives were being sharpened I was born With a memory sew together with a needle and thread Full grown in a way With ideas liable to change With an arm not up to armed combat With a soul where anxiety has taken root With a mouth that stammers when it speaks And a compound name with no links to modernity And a heart open to all possibilities. I was born By divine decree In the alleys Of the third world Following Plan B In a somewhat primitive way in the clinic of a midwife who didn't believe in fate I was born in installments With this body liberated From the womb that kept trying to abort it.
(To the Drowned Paul Celan)
As if it is happening now That river in whose head you spin Remembers you Until now It remembers Your lined forehead Your eyes staring Into unknown spaces Your hand furrowed By a scalpel and your terrifying jump On that crazy morning Celan everything was real In that obscure event Your waterproof shoes Your last cigarette The Mirabeau bridge The distant whistles of the steamboats Your shadow that always wanted you to look different The dreams that left you imagining how the final scene would be And this sky with its seven layers Why didn't you think about things for longer? Was the world so terrifying? What are you doing to tell the world about the magnetic river mud A garden settled in the face of nature Or roots of a river squeezed between two banks Celan The sun was present at the farewell ceremony And the eager water applauded With great enthusiasm Your overwhelming presence The German-speaking Jew The comrade tormented in concentration camps Celan We miss you We who don't read much We who press on these fingers So they say something We who rely on chance To find ourselves We who are trying to make you a promise
In a while And with these fingers that have never pulled a trigger I will play a tune On a sunflower On your shirt buttons if I can A tune Longer than the river Rhine More powerful than the whistling of the wind that travels with its diplomatic passport To the sound of rumbling tanks I will play that rebel tune To the audience who doesn't take the performance seriously To the sun that investigates the identity of the new prophets To dogs who think about sex To that invincible force I will play a tune With or without these crooked fingers On matchboxes On walls Where 'The people want' is written On barbed wire sharper than it ought to be On shoes that run marathons on bad days I'll play the tune That's spreading through these fingers now Like a boat that has overcome its obsession with sinking.
© Abdul Karim Al-Ahmad
Abdul Karim Al-Ahmad is an author from Syria and currently resides in Germany. He is a writer of poetry, stories and novels, a number of them having been published in Arab and international literary magazines and websites.