Two Poems by Omair Bhat

Imagining Palestine in Kashmir

I always imagined a conversation with you,
or someone, from the promised land,
from Flisteen,
dressed in paisleys of the language of Darwish,
Kanafani and Tuqan (Arabic, oh, the arabic, the language
of water, the language of resistance.)
Someone like you, in war, someone
alone, terribly alone,
somewhere, digging madness of the wounds of revolutions,
planting gardens of words in detonated bombshells.
Someone like you who, i fancied, must have grown
into a woman on the same day she was born.
Someone who would have told me, if i had asked her,
what does night smell of in Hebron in summer?
(chrysanthemum and wild roses)
Under fragile olive branches how does rain
wet fistful of earth in your palm in winter?
(Rain still has conscience. Rain still
has no colour.
It has not forgotten us like everyone else.)
Someone like you who would have told me, if i had asked her
which moon rises over Jerusalem and breaks up over which Arab
desert in spring?
(A Bedouin moon, in exile now.
It whitens us each night.
We shimmer in the sea of sand.
It arches above us and breaks up
over the silenced territory of history at midnight,
in Mesopotamia.)
Someone like you who would have told me if doves still take
flight over Ramallah at dawn?
Someone like you, standing steadfast in prayer in Tunis,
thinking that pigeons will carry your greetings to Jenin everyday -
would they ever traverse jails and
detention centers and carry your greetings
as far as Jenin or Tubas ?
(They will when I fashion a home in my memory out of stone.)
Someone like you, who takes me past everything
in my imagination, past all political lies,
past all propaganda,
past the farcical peace treaties,
past the Zionist ambush of occupation,
to the rubble in Gaza,
to the funeral of children,
to the streets of sorrow
where I become a martyr poet .. like you,
she, the daughter of Nablus,
the gazelle of Haifa,
the rain in my poem, who would have
told me if I had asked her,
if Nazareth visits her in her dreams,
in my dream, asking her, in a broken voice,
When will you liberate me?
Someone like you who tells me now,
like she would've told me, emerging
from the dead sea in the West Bank,
(like fragrance of musk and olives)
'Yes, Yes, I tell her, Nazareth, soon
soon, this all will end.
And we will restore ourselves to order.
We will march to Al Aqsa with the keys to claim what is
intimate to us, what has been stolen from our
bombed houses, by A and B and C, in deceit.
‘One fine morning, you console me, when you wake up
in your valley in Kashmir from a nightmare,
we will suddenly be free. 


In the name of my enemy

I frighten you so much, my enemy,
that when you kill me you don't
dare to come near me, where I
lie, lifeless,
facing sky, in the rubble
of houses and shattered glass ,
and when
you summon your wavering courage,
and come near me, running,
you pump
bullets into my corpse,
kick me, abuse me, take away
my belongings, making
sure I'm dead
before you tie me
to your trucks and drag me
in the streets in mud and slush,
parading me like a trophy
in curfew.
It doesn't matter
what you do to me
when I'm dead -
it doesn't matter
if you spit at me
or eviscerate me, after you kill me.
What matters is
(which you may ask yourself also)
how much i must have frightened
you when I was alive.

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