The only language of loss left in the world is Arabic-
These words were said to me in a language not Arabic.
Ancestors, you've left me a plot in the family graveyard-
Why must I look, in your eyes, for prayers in Arabic?
Majnoon, his clothes ripped, still weeps for his Laila.
O, this is the madness of the desert, his crazy Arabic.
Who listens to Ishmael? Even now he cries out:
Abraham, throw away your knives, recite a psalm in Arabic.
From exile Mahmoud Darwish writes to the world:
You'll all pass between the fleeting words of Arabic.
At an exhibition of miniatures, such delicate calligraphy:
Kashmiri paisley tied into the golden hair of Arabic!
The Koran prophesied a fire of men and stones.
Well, it's all now come true, as it was said in the Arabic.
When Lorca died, they left the balconies open and saw
his gasidas braided, on the horizon, into knots of Arabic.
Memory is no longer confused, it has a homeland-
Says Shammas: Territorialize each confusion in a graceful Arabic.
Where there were homes in Deir Yassin, you'll see dense forests-
That village was razed. There's no sign of Arabic.
I too, O Amichai, saw the dresses of beautiful women.
And everything else, just like you, in Death, Hebrew, and Arabic.
They ask me to tell them what Shahid means-
Listen: It means "The Beloved" in Persian, "Witness" in Arabic.
Kashmiri Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001)
From his book "The Country Without a Post Office."