A Refugee

Yasser Khanjer
Translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Hacker

One day when I was little, my mother took me by the hand and saidWe’re going to fill a jug with water at the Spring of the Reeds.And when we walk across those ruinsHold on to the folds of my dressAnd keep your eyes on the ground, son, to stay in step with me,Follow the chime of my ankle-bracelets to find your wayIf I’m gone for long, don’t wait for me.But remember – there is a sun holding its hand out to you gentlyIf your heart follows its path from that lightThe path will lead towards dawn. Don’t wait for meYou’ll follow morning’s chime on sleep under your eyelidsAnd the scent of roses on the bed of your stumbling childhood                                                *Since I was littleA thread, unravelled from my mother’s dressHas been looped around my hand.

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Yasser Khanjer was born in 1977 in the occupied Golan Heights. He was imprisoned in his early twenties for resistance to the occupation, and his first book was published while he was behind bars.

Marilyn Hacker is the author of thirteen books of poems, including A Stranger’s Mirror (Norton, 2015), Names (Norton, 2010), and Desesperanto (Norton, 2003); an essay collection, Unauthorized Voices (Michigan, 2010); and fourteen collections of translations of French and Francophone poets including Emmanuel Moses, Marie Etienne, Venus Khoury-Ghata, Habib Tengour and Rachida Madani. She lives in Paris.

PN Review

September/October 2018


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