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The Image of the House in Bait Jala

ISSUE:  Summer 2008

He is compelled to return and close
the window, confused about whether he should.
Things are less clear since he lost her—
a hole has opened inside him.

Filling the hole exhausts him, as does
straightening fences, wiping window-glass,
cleaning edges, and watching for dust that
lures and confuses his memory.

Since losing her, even
his childhood seems a delusion.

Closing doors exhausts him, as does
checking window-latches and houseplants,
removing the dust that, since he lost her,
has invaded the rooms:
the beds, the linens, the cookware,
and picture-frames hanging on the walls.

Since losing her, he’s sat in the houses
of friends, who grow fewer,
sleeps in their beds, which grow narrower,
while the dust erodes his memories.

He needs to go back and close that window;
the one at the top of the stairs, leading to the roof.
The one that he often forgets.

Since losing her, he has walked aimlessly—
even the smallest tasks are less clear.

—Translated by Zina Haj-Hasan and Amro Naddy


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