He Waits for No One

Mahmoud Darwish, translated Fady Joudah

A poem by Mahmoud Darwish, translated from Arabic by Fady Joudah

He waits for no one,
he doesn’t feel a deficiency in his being, 
the river before him is gray like his coat, 
sunlight fills him with clearness
and the trees are high /

And he doesn’t feel a deficiency in the place, 
his wooden chair, his coffee, his water glass, 
the strangers, the other things in the café,
all are as they’ve been,
and the newspapers are the same: yesterday’s news, a world 
floating over the murdered as usual /

He doesn’t feel a need for a hope to keep him company, 
as when the unknown becomes green in the desert
or when a wolf longs for a guitar,
he doesn’t wait for a thing, not even for a surprise, 
and he no longer dares repetition… I know
the end of the road from the first step –
he says to himself – I neither distance myself from a world, 
nor bring it near one

He waits for no one… and doesn’t feel a deficiency
in his emotions. Autumn remains his royal host,
seducing him with a music that brings him back to the golden
Renaissance… to a poetry that rhymes with planets and vastness

He waits for no one by the river /

In non waiting I wed the sparrow’s daughter 
in non waiting I am a river – he says –
neither cruel to myself, nor
cruel to anyone,
and I escape an inevitable question:
What do I want 
what do I want?

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