Unable to help in any way, only to celebrate Palestinian literature.
Professor of Arabic literature Salma Khadra Jayyusi is a Palestinian poet, critic, and anthologist. Born in Salt in East Jordan, she spent her childhood in Acre and Jerusalem. She has travelled and lived in many places in the Middle East, Europe, and the US and has taught at the Universities of Khartoum, Algiers, and Constantine, and in America at the Universities of Utah, Washington, and Texas. She is the founder and director of the Project of Translation from Arabic (PROTA), which aims to provide translations of Arabic literature into English.Her first collection, Return from the Dreamy Fountain, was published in 1960. Translated by the author and Charles Doria, this is:
Poem to My Son
I am an April woman:
December ash that consumes itself
My son, hide me while you rocket to the stars
spreading over the earth like grass
Winter thunderstorm will drink down
my river flowing with love’s secrets,
muffling that music in whose echoes
you were born.
But you shrug your shoulders:
“This woman is planted in time
she bridges the air like a dove
a thousand years old.
She is a willow, I know her:
bend her -she springs back
She is a palm tree, I know her
pick her fruit -she makes more
honey and dates
She is a cypress tree, I know her
she never loses her leaves
What do December storms mean to her?”
Yet the winter winds do howl, my son,
night and day I yearn for you
for your sweet sarcastic voice
your voice wise and cruel, innocent and selfish.
Night and day I miss you
We both live in space, in the wind and the rain
Each of us drinks his own wine
each of us is poured in his own glass
for you were made of my elements.
I gave you:
my impetuous soul
my constant disappearance
flitting far away across the world
my chronic elusiveness
a will like rock, loyal
as the true stars
in the sky’s valleys.
And I gave you:
the will to conquer
and the enchantment of the spirit
in the presence of holy fire.
Should I blame you?
And you gave me:
a promise and pledge
security forever delayed
love that’s here and is never here
Should you blame me?
I am a wild gazelle
you are rock
My head is bloodied.
Translated by the author and Charles Doria