Revenge

by Taha Muhammad Ali, translated by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi and Gabriel Levin
21 December 2006
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At times ... I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me
into
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I'd rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!

*

But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who'd put
his right hand over
the heart's place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they'd set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.

*

Likewise ... I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn't bear his absence
and whom his gifts would thrill.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbours he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school ...
asking about him
and sending him regards.

*

But if he turned
out to be on his own—
cut off like a branch from a tree—
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbours or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I'd add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness—
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I'd be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street—as I
convinced myself
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.

Nazareth
April 15, 2006


###

* "Revenge" was initially published by TWO LINES: World Writing in Translation, along with a short introduction to the poet and the poem by Peter Cole. The poem was read by Taha Muhammad Ali and Peter Cole at the 11th Dodge Poetry Festival in Stanhope, New Jersey. Taha Muhammad Ali lives in Nazareth. When he is not reading and writing poetry, he runs a souvenir shop. Peter Cole is a poet, translator and editor, and has been visiting professor at Wesleyan University and Middlebury College. He lives in Jerusalem. This poem is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at www.commongroundnews.org.

Source: TWO LINES: World Writing in Translation, 15 April 2006, www.catranslation.org
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.
 
 
 
 
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