And They Don’t Ask… Wadi Qana Poetry
Wadi Qana, the beautiful valley northeast of Deir Istiya, was once home to more than 50 Palestinian families; today there are only a few left, scattered around. The rest have been forced out from their land and heritage by the Israeli occupation and the Israeli regime’s brutal policy of colonialism.
After failed attempts to close down Wadi Qana under the pretext of a “closed military zone” (farmers staged successful demonstrations against such practices), Wadi Qana was declared a Natural Reserve. According to the Israeli occupation, this means uprooting hundreds of olive trees, indigenous to the area and the whole of Palestine. The latest attack against Palestinian olive trees in the Wadi took place in January this year. The land still bears the wounds.
But Wadi Qana is also a magical place that invites poetry into its welcoming arms. On this occasion, we share a poem by the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, may he rest in peace.
And they don’t ask…
And they don’t ask: What comes after death?
Though more intimate with the book of Paradise
than with accounts of the earth, they’re preoccupied
with another question: What shall we do
before this death? Near to life, we live
and we don’t – as if life were parceled out
from a desert where the haggling gods of property
settle their disputes.
We live beside an ancient dust.
Our lives burden the historian’s night:
“Though I make them disappear, they come back to me
Our lives burden the artist:
“I draw them and become one of them, veiled in mist.”
Our lives burden the General:
“How can a ghost still bleed?”
We shall be what we want to be. And we want
a bit of life, not for just anything – but to honor
the resurrection after our death.
Unintentionally, they speak the philosopher’s words:
“Death means nothing to us: if we are then he isn’t.
Death means nothing to us: if he is then we are not.”
And they have rearranged their dreams
and sleep standing.