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Beirut, August 1982


I wish he hadn't died
the one who died in Wednesday's raid

He was limping down Nazlet elBeir
a blond
like those who come from the rivers in Northern Iraq

Patiently . . . like an "insane" mother
war was spinning her wool that summer
as it is now!

Some song on the radio begins: "O Beir"
and it fills the house
my father's house in Karameh
or maybe his house before that in Beit Jala
the one I never find when I visit there.

O what the songs didn't tell us!

A narrow street
in the poor suburbs of war
neglected by all
things save summer and fighter jets

while the young man from Northern Iraq
who thought I was a Moroccan from the countryside

was limping in his death . . .
blond . . .
not made any fainter by the lighthouse
or the memories.


Ghassan Zaqtan

The Massachusetts Review

Fall / Winter 2011


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