What Say You, Um Mas’oud? – A Poem

By Nasser Barghouty

Someone left heaven’s gate ajar
Um Mas’oud
a lingering half prayer half answered
but enough for me to slip in uninvited
from afar
and into this glimmer of a realm
that is forever foreign
forever not from here or there
always unchosen
but always from this side of Safed
with all that’s left to share
but a key, a sigh and a stare
among the abodes of rough tenderness
that hide tall the rescued pride
of a captured sun
and the decaying scars of justice denied
What say you, Um Mas’oud
of fate of the aimless
or fortune of the hopeless
when it wanders into your heaven?

Displaced no longer I wandered in
buoyed from below and from within
to all that is you
about you, and for you
Um Mas’oud
Unrehearsed and unsanctioned
I have become your dual
and you,
Um Mas’oud
my true, my cue
my final
I re-learned my aleph ba’
to spell and draw
your beauty and our history
in the only language I was meant
to know, in virtue and in mystery
What say you, Um Mas’oud
of two wanderers’ fate
when it fights to-date
that which was dealt?

Um Mas’oud, I caught heaven’s eyes as they knelt
or they seem to have when I have felt
your steps crossing that side of Safed
to this side of history
and as they wept for your past
and our future
Um Mas’oud, heaven’s eyes are speechless
for words are bound to meanings inept
and times passed
when our land was in-between
this epoch and that rule
but through your eyes
seen anew and breathless
only through them
those eyes could we dare to dream
to cross to the other side of hope
What say you, Um Mas’oud
of a pair not of this world
their sight that of love, dream and pain
can we with their light alone cope?

A mere oracle or two too far,
dear Um Mas’oud
between you and that Tolaytela,
you and Safed
us and this side
of history,
between them and
our denied tragedy
a mere oracle or two, Um Mas’oud
As a mere number or two also stand too far
between you and I
Um Mas’oud
Where giant stars fade
and ancient seas dry
“our” numbers stay
to haunt us betrayed
What say you, Um Mas’oud
of souls and dreams
that come unmade
when things compute and abstraction hoorayed?

Um Mas’oud, look me in the souls
through this divide
and follow mine across this collated time
and this fragmented space
as it rolls untied
down the timeless hills of Safed
under the spell of her thyme
and yours
Um Mas’oud, look me in the souls
across this divide
and whisper to me, time and again
that I once belonged to this heaven
in a dream stopped sudden
but will belong, born and then
from its soil, where the angels cried,
and to where you will return
What say you, Um Mas’oud
of dreams that do not know how to die
in a timeless time, and
of a heaven that knows only your name?

What say you, Um Mas’oud?

– Nasser Barghouty contributed this poem to PalestineChronicle.com.

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