The Coming Testament


Amal Dunqul
Translation: Ferial J. Ghazoul



Chapter I

In the beginning I was man, woman and tree
I was father, son and holy ghost
I was morning, evening and the circular fixed gaze
My throne was stones on the banks of river
Sheep grazed
Bees buzzed around blossoms
Geese floated in silence lake
And life throbbed like a distant mill
When I saw:
That all I see can't save the heart from boredom
(Cockfights were my one entertainment
In my lonely seat among entangled branches)

Chapter II

I said to myself:
If I go down to the water and wash, I will split
(If I split, I will double...and I smiled)
After I bathed
From Lips' heat
Blossoms wove themselves into a shawl with which
I wrapped my shivering body
(My throne floating like an ark)
A sparrow fluttered to my head
And, alighting, shook off its dew
I gazed in the water's depth
I gazed
And saw my face adorned with a thom-wreath

Chapter III

I said:
Let love be on earth, and it was not
I said:
Let river dissolve into ocean
Ocean into drought
Drought into fertility
Sprouting bread to sustain hungry hearts
Grass for the earth's cattle
Shade for exiles in sorrow's desert
I saw the son of Adam
Raising his fences around God's personal farm
Shopping for border guards
Selling bread and water to his brethren
Milking lean cows
I said:
Let love be on earth, and it was not
Love was now possessed
By those who could afford the price
And God saw this was not good
I said:
Let justice be on earth
An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth
I said:
Does the wolf devour the wolf?
The goat devour the goat?
Don't brandish the sword against the necks of these two:
The child or the old man
And I came to see the son of Adam
Slaughtering the son of Adam
Setting cities ablaze
Planting his dagger in the bellies of pregnant women
Giving his children's fmgers as fodder to horses
Decorating victory banquet with rosettes of severed lips
Justice become death
The gun its measure
Its children crucified in public squares and city street corners
I said:
Let justice be on earth
But it was not
Justice was now possessed
By figures seated on thrones of skulls
With shrouds for mantles
And God saw this was not good
I said:
Let reason be on earth
With its measured voice
I said:
Do birds build nests in a snake's mouth?
Do worms live in fiery flames?
Does the owl paint its eye-lashes black with Kohl?
Is salt strewn when wheat is intended
In the run of time's wheel?
I saw the son of Adam go mad:
Uprooting tall trees
Spitting in wells
Spilling oil on the face river's face
Living in a house while storing a deadly bomb
Under the sill
Giving shelter to scorpions in the warmth of his ribs
Bequeathing to his descendants
His faith
His name
His shirt of strife
Reason become an exiled beggar
Stoned by brats
Arrested by border guards
His patriotic identity invalidated by governments
His name listed among those who hate their homeland
I said:
Let reason be on earth
But it was not
Reason fell apart in a spiral of exile and prison
Until it went mad
And God saw this was not good

Chapter IV

I said:
Let the wind be on earth to sweep this rot clean
I said:
Let be wind and blood
The wind uprooting the rustling of tenacious leaf
The blood reaching roots to purify and fertilize
Ascending the stalk
Entangled leaves
Hanging fruit
That they be pressed into wine
Trilling in jugs
I said:
Let the blood turn into a river of honey
Flowing through the gardens of Eden
Earth is beauty
Embellished by the poor
For them
It perfumes itself
They give it love
It gives them progeny and pride
I said:
The rich shall not dwell in it
The rich who mint from the sweat of laborers
Adulterous coins
Crown jewels
Ivory earrings
And hypocritic rosaries
For I am the forebear of the poor who live apart
Dying and counting on me for solace
I said:
Let the earth be for them and for me
(As I am one of them)
When I take off my heavenly garments
I am sanctified
In hunger's scream on a rude bed

Chapter V

I gazed at the stones and the spring
I saw my face in hunger's contours
I gazed at my forehead upside-down
I saw myself:
The cross and the crucified
I screamed
Emerging from the womb of bliss
I screamed
Pleading innocent
My being: My gallows
My umbilical cord: Its ruptured coil



The Book of Exodus

Chapter I

O ye standing on the edge of the massacre
Level your weapons
Death fell
The heart burst like a rosary
And blood flowed over the shawl
The houses are tombs
The prison-cells are tombs
The horizons are tombs
So raise your weapons
And follow me
I am the remorse of tomorrow and yesterday
My emblem: Two bones and a skull
My slogan: The morning

Chapter II

The tired clock struck
His good mother raised her eyes
(The muzzles of guns pushed him into the vehicle)
The tired clock struck
She got up and arranged his study
(A hand slapped him
God's hand led him into temptation)
The tired clock struck
His mother sat and mended his socks
(The interrogator's eyes pricked at him
Until his skin broke out in blood and answers)
The tired clock struck
The tired clock struck

Chapter III

When you descend on people's square
Don't give them your "Peace be with you"
Right now they awe carving up your kale ones on platters
Having set fire to the nest
The straw and the seed
Tomorrow they'll slaughter you
Looking for treasure in your gizzard
And tomorrow
Millennial cities turn info cities of tents
Cities climbing the looming guillotine's ladder

Chapter IV

The cruel clock struck
They stood in the sullen public squares
And circled the steps of the monument
Like trees ablaze
Among their tangled delicate foliage the wind blasted
Moaning ''My country, My country"
(My distant country)
The cruel clock struck
"Look" cried a belle
Lounging in a limousine with foreign plates
The second muttered:
"They will disband when the cold sets in
and when fatigue descends"
The cruel clock struck
In a cafe
A radio was broadcasting patchwork speeches
On riot-mongers
As they circled
Flaming on the petrified cake around the monument:
A candlestick of anger glowing at night
Voices flushing out whatever gloom remained
Chanting for the birthright of a new Egypt

Chapter V

Remember me
The headlines in treacherous newspapers
Smeared me
Colored me
For I have been colorless since the defeat
(Except for the color of loss)
Before which I used to read the face of the sand
(Sand become like hard currency
Sand turned into mats
Beneath the feet of the Defense Army)
So remember me
As you would a smuggler
A sentimental singer
A colonel's cap
Or New Year's decoration
Remember me
When the eye-witnesses
When the minutes of Parliament
When the list of declared accusations have forgotten me
Farewell
And farewell

Chapter Vl

The clock struck five
Soldiers appeared:
A circle of shields and helmets
Here they come closer little by little
They come from every all direction
The chanters on the petrified cake
Ebbing and flowing like a throbbing of a heart
Inflaming throats
Warming themselves against the cold and gloom
Chanting hymns to approaching guards
Intertwining their tender wretched hands
Forming a fence against bullets
Bullets
Bullets
Ah
They chant:
"We shall redeem you O Egypt
We shall redeem..."
A silenced throat collapses
With it your name O Egypt collapses on the ground
Nothing remains but crushed body and screams
On the gloomy square
The clock struck five
It struck five
It struck five
Your water was scattered O River
When you reached your outlet
The houses are tombs
The prison-cells are tombs
The horizons are tombs
So raise the weapons
Raise
The weapons