"Prayer for Homs"
Faraj Bayrakdar
I will come to Homs shortly,
I will enter it safely,
protected by its people and
my faith in them.
For almost twenty years
of absence, obsession and delusion.
for twenty years
abandoned at its crossroads
the guards overwhelmed me with weapons
I did not see
tore at me with weapons
I did not see,
but I will come to the city
any way she accepts me.
Wouldn’t this city buy me
even for a few herbs, spices, welcomes?
I will come to this city even as a refugee
if the meaning of refuge has changed,
deleted from its old dictionary.
But how would I create a dictionary of Homs?
When I have no Imam whose prayers could
remove my doubt,
but I have a God
for whom I recite his verses privately
until dawn reveals the city's face,
when the dawn tells us:
You are safe of whatever you say or don't,
believers and nonbelievers,
for all those who lit up its promises
with candles in their fingers
so the city can see its tomorrow, our people.
Homs, whose mother is Syria,
is above all suspicions. 
I will come to Homs alone,
I will come to her with love and affection,
It's Homs which baptized me 
and Islamized me.
It is only fitting I belong to her.
A thousand loves, sorrows, and a river of memories,
for her to recover and for me to heal.
This poem appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 17, No. 65, 2011.
Translated from the Arabic by Basma Botros and Paige Donnelly.
The Arabic text appeared in the Beirut-based Nawafez magazine.
Copyright © 2013 AL JADID MAGAZINE