Writing the Palestinian Nakba: Fadwa Touqan

All week, during the week of the Nakba, I’ll be posting from Palestinian writers. Today’s is a poem by la grande dame of Palestinian poetry, Fadwa Touqan, translated by friends Christopher Millis and Tania Tamari Nasir. This translation appeared in Words Without Borders.

Touqan wrote the poem when her native city of Nablus was under siege by the Israeli army and she was almost bedridden; it is one of her last writings. ~~

Nablus. Photo:dslands.com

Nablus. Photo:dslands.com

Longing: Inspired by the Law of Gravity

Time’s out and I’m home alone with the shadow I cast
Gone is the law of the universe, scattered by frivolous fate
Nothing to hold down my things
Nothing to weigh them to the floor
My possessions have flown, they belong to others
My chair, my cupboard, the revolving stool

Alone with the shadow I cast
No father, no mother
No brothers, no sisters to swell
The house full with laughter
Nothing but loneliness and grief
And the rubble of months, the years
Bend my back, slow my steps, blind me to the horizon

I miss the smell of coffee, the scent in the air
Its absence an ecstasy where I drown morning and night

Time’s out and I’m home alone
With the shadow I cast

I miss the company of books
Their consolation through trouble and joy

I miss, how I miss my mother’s ancient clock, family photos framed on the wall
I miss my oud
For all its silent, severed strings

Time’s out and I’m home alone
The curfew hurts
It hurts me, no it kills me, the killing of children near my home

I’m afraid of tomorrow
I’m afraid of the unknowable resources of fate
O God, don’t let me be a burden, shunned by young and old
I wait to arrive where the land is silent, I’m waiting for death
Long has been my journey O God
Make the path short and the journey end



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: Fadwa Touqan

  1. Aukjen says:

    how heartbreaking

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