Fady Joudah was born in Austin, Texas, in a Palestinian refugee home. He is a physician of internal medicine and a field member of Doctors Without Borders as well as a poet and translator. His works have appeared in several journals and anthologies. His translation of Mahmoud Darwish’s most recent poetry is collected in The Butterfly’s Burden from Copper Canyon Press.
I think of god as a little bird who takes
To staying close to the earth,
The destiny of little wings
To exaggerate the wind
And peck the ground.
I see Haifa
By my father and your father’s sea,
The sea with little living in it,
Fished out like a land.
I think of a little song and
How there must be a tree.
I choose the sycamore
I saw split in two
Minaret trunks on the way
To a stone village, in a stone-thrower mountain.
Were the villagers wrong to love
Their donkeys and wheat for so long,
To sing to the good stranger
Their departure song?
I think of the tree that is a circle
In a straight line, future and past.
I wait for the wind to send
God down, I become ready for song.
I sing, in a tongue not my own:
We left our shoes behind and fled.
We left our scent in them
Then bled out our soles.
We left our mice and lizards
There in our kitchens and on the walls.
But they crossed the desert after us,
Some found our feet in the sand and slept,
Some homed in on us like pigeons,
Then built their towers in a city coffin for us . . .
I will probably visit you there after Haifa.
A little bird to exaggerate the wind
And lick the salt off the sea of my wings. I think
God reels the earth in when the sky rains
Like fish on a wire.
And the sea, each time it reaches the shore,
Becomes a bird to see of the land
What it otherwise wouldn’t.
And the wind through the trees
Is the sea coming home.