REFUGEE: A man leaves, embarks on a journey, endures inhumane difficulties in search of a humane haven. There is a war going on where he comes from; it’s not safe even to walk to the vegetable souk. Abducted by one armed group, an ambulance driver he knows is forced to make a fake confession on video for the benefit of satellite news channels, then sold to another armed group—and so on.
—You were waiting there,
not parting from the threshold.
Neither night after night
nor morning after morning
could wipe off your eyes the elongated picture of a soul,
of the trunk of a soul.
—Did anyone drink from your mouth
except those mood swings
when the moon takes control of your body’s waters?
—You were smiling,
you were happy,
behaving like a child,
trying to stretch your head
to receive something… from me.
as if I couldn’t see you.
I did not want to face your eyes
because your eyes asked a lot of questions.
and (what no one sees)
your feet bump into animals
that scurry from your path.
Half of you is covered in wheat straw
and your soul is naked.
Mohammed El Mazrouie
Translated from Arabic by Youssef Rakha