Featured Poem

From 'West Bank Diary'

1st March: Ain Kiniyya

Spring covers with a green
exiles never forget
the hills where wandering herds
graze the growing grass

Women stooped between olive trees
clasp in their motherly hands
sage wild thyme and zatar
herbs of an inherited tongue

Rain extracts from dust
its secret treasures
camomile poppy and cyclamen
a coloured carpet of cries

The blood of the red earth
bleeds on a bed of pebbles
whilst the wind blows away
the pines of the settlements

The folded strata of rock
trace the lines of a time
when oceans displaced
mountains before men


2nd March: Al Rabweh

The poet’s earth is everywhere
beneath the dry autumn grass
around the tombstone
upright on its hill

A man-sized pyramid of glass
contains flowers mementoes
some sprigs of green wheat
sheltered from the pressing sky

Facing the palace of culture
flags threadbare by the wind
at the top of their mast
declare nothing

Further off an armed guard
carries out his chores
and some dogs search for food
on a garbage dump

The hum of motors
the call of solitary birds
the hubbub of the town
drifts over the hill

Here lie the son’s bones
washed by the tears of mothers
Here once the sun has set
light glows from the rocks


5th March: Kobar

A hand worn by the years
calls and recalls lost time

Almond trees recall a marriage
in an old woman’s garden

Time carries no more the memory of dreams
nor the bitterness of the five layers of green almonds
nor the immemorial cooking with wild herbs
nor betrothals celebrated on a new floor
nor the habitual stillness of the donkey when the wind changes
nor the gait of a mother when settlers pass by
nor the son’s last poem engraved in stone

A black hole between the few teeth left
tells a story of a family in pieces

Under the shade of almond trees
a pair of earthy feet scatters specks of dust

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About the translation:
Poet:
Yves Berger
Translator:
John Berger
Original language:
French
Issue:
2014 Number 2 - The Constellation

About the author

Original poet

Yves Berger

Yves Berger is a painter and poet. One of his books of poems Destinez-moi la Palestine was translated into Arabic. His last im...

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John Berger

Translator

John Berger

Storyteller, essayist, poet, screenwriter, dramatist. Lives in the French Alps. Most recent book: Hold Everything Dear. Dispat...

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