Tears on a Sad Iraqi Face

Lami’ah Abbas Amarah

I rested my head on an Iraqi chest and wept
his heart endured the same sorrow as mine
he caressed and calmed me; I slept.
as branches of sadness, interlaced between 
our souls, moan even in our silence
O wailing heart, O most beautiful eyes 
I have ever seen
what has united us?
the cruelty of this war?
Or the passion of love? 

O sad face from my homeland.
what tears what love can wash that sad face?
O my family, now only terror fills their hunger,
fills their thirst. O the panic of resurrection. 
Is there any road that does not lead 
them to destruction and Hell. 
Any shelter for them? 
what age do we live in? an age of barbarism? 
or an age of civilization,
disgraced by its deeds in Amiriyyah.

This is the gloom of a defeated knight, 
his hands paralyzed,
his forehead bearing the brunt of destruction, 
all the sadness of the burning palm trees
all the wailing songs from the South, 
all the echoes of lamentation
o palm trees of Samawah
how much cruelty can exist in this world?
seventy thousand children, sweet as dates

- no, even sweeter - have fallen,
along with your burning leaves, for what sins O palm trees of Samawah?

Like a headstrong mare I was.
I tripped not 
nor was I easy to subdue
possessing the pride of the palm trees, 
of my homeland's ageless hospitality.
My pride was to starve, rather than to bend, defiant, like the palm tree.
Alas! Led I was one day to forget my pride
when my own guide misled me

Lo and behold! now I stretched out my hands asking for charities,
dispensed by the same hands which destroyed civilization.

Translated by Salih J. Altoma

This essay appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 3, No. 21 (Fall 1997) 

Copyright (c) 1997 by Al Jadid