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Old Passages

ISSUE:  Summer 2008

Suspended in memory,
only her fingers do not sleep,
riding their own dreams
beneath a dim light


a single bell rang, audible all the way to her house,
a sound rising from the hills nearby,
where the convent and the ruined buildings were.

That single bell limped at the fence
of the Muslim cemetery,
crossing the solitary genies and ghosts

who slept
by the spring that the birds frequented.

A bell for foreign women,
for the littlest wishes, and for summer.
For old clothes, schoolbooks,
and the dead boys in the attic.

The bell, in older times, would climb the hill,
rest behind the shrubs at the hill-trough,
the place where old dogs folded into the story,
where the houses could gather in peaceful air.

The single bell that called her name
as it rose above the grove of pines,
maybe in order to place
the period at the end of the poem.

—Translated by Zina Haj-Hasan and Amro Naddy


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