Sabra and Shatila
by Mahmoud Darwish
Sabra – a sleeping girl
The men left
War slept for two short nights,
Beirut obeyed and became the capital…
A long night
Observing the dreams in Sabra,
Sabra is sleeping.
Sabra – the remains of a dead body
She bid farewell to her horsemen and time
And surrendered to sleep out of tiredness.. and the Arabs who threw her behind them.
Sabra – and what the soldiers Departing from Galilee forgot
She doesn’t buy and sell anything but her silence
To buy flowers to put on her braided hair.
Sabra – sings her lost half, between the sea and the last war:
Why do you go?
And leave your wives in the middle of a hard night?
Why do you go?
And hang your night
Over the camp and the national anthem?
Sabra – covering her naked breasts with a farewell song
Counts her palms and gets it wrong
While she can’t find the arm:
How many times will you travel?
And for how long?
And for what dream?
If you return one day
for which exile shall you return,
which exile brought you back?
Sabra – tearing open her chest:
How many times
does the flower bloom?
How many times
will the revolution travel?
Sabra – afraid of the night. Puts it on her knees
covers it with her eyes’ mascara. Cries to distract it:
They left without saying
anything about their return
Withered and tended
from the rose’s flame!
Returned without returning
to the beginning of their journey
Age is like children
running away from a kiss.
No, I do not have an exile
To say: I have a home
God, oh time ..!
Sabra – sleeps. And the fascist’s knife wakes up
Sabra calls who she calls
All of this night is for me, and night is salt
the fascist cuts her breasts – the night reduced –
he then dances around his knife and licks it. Singing an ode to a victory of the cedars,
Quietly .. Her flesh from her bones
and spreads her organs over the table
and the fascist continues dancing and laughs for the tilted eyes
and goes crazy for joy, Sabra is no longer a body:
He rides her as his instincts suggest, and his will manifests.
And steals a ring from her flesh and blood and goes back to his mirror
And be – Sea
And be – Land
And be – Clouds
And be – Blood
And be – Night
And be – Killing
And be – Saturday
and she be – Sabra.
Sabra – the intersection of two streets on a body
Sabra, the descent of a Spirit down a Stone
And Sabra – is no one
Sabra – is the identity of our time, forever.
Translated by Saad El Kurdi
Sabra and Shatila – Israel’s massacre of Palestinians remembered
Israel’s crimes against humanity at Sabra and Shatila commemorated – unable to return home due to Israel’s racist regime, Palestinians whom Israel drove from their homes in 1948 and their descendants, continue to suffer.
‘Let me tell you about what life is like for the Palestinians I know still living in Sabra and Shatila. More than 9,000 refugees live within one square kilometer. Most of the dwellings are overcrowded, damp, and poorly ventilated; some have tin roofs. Open sewage systems run through the camps. The population is vulnerable to hostilities between various political factions. Refugees are denied the right to work in most jobs. Impoverished, they depend on an already overworked and underfunded UNRWA for basic health services and education. Inadequate nutrition, chronic illnesses and poor health are common. Children are deprived of a good education. Many refugees have never been out of their camp! Third and fourth generations are being born, growing up, and dying in these camps. It is bleak and appalling. The future holds little hope for any improvement in their lives.’