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This poem is taken from PN Review 243, Volume 45 Number 1, September - October 2018.

Poems (translated by Marilyn Hacker) Yasser Khanjer and Fadwa Suleiman
Translated from the Arabic (Syria) by Marilyn Hacker

A Refugee


One day when I was little, my mother took me by the hand and said
We’re going to fill a jug with water at the Spring of the Reeds.
And when we walk across those ruins
Hold on to the folds of my dress
And keep your eyes on the ground, son, to stay in step with me,
Follow the chime of my ankle-bracelets to find your way
If I’m gone for long, don’t wait for me.
But remember – there is a sun holding its hand out to you gently
If your heart follows its path from that light
The path will lead towards dawn. Don’t wait for me
You’ll follow morning’s chime on sleep under your eyelids
And the scent of roses on the bed of your stumbling childhood


Since I was little
A thread, unravelled from my mother’s dress

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