Remembering Mourid Barghouti, Palestinian Poet, Writer and Humanitarian

My Grandfather’s Cloak


My grandfather, still harbouring the illusion

that all is well with the world,

fills his countryside pipe

for the last time

before the advent of the helmets and bulldozers.


On the bulldozer’s teeth

my grandfather’s cloak gets hooked.


The bulldozer retreats a few yards,

empties its load,

comes back to fill its huge fork

and has never had enough.


Twenty times, the bulldozer

comes and goes,

my grandfather’s cloak still hooked on it.


After the dust and smoke

had cleared from the house that had been standing there

and as I was staring at the new emptiness

I saw my grandfather

wearing his cloak,


wearing the very same cloak,

not one that was similar

but the very same.


He hugged me and maintained a silent gaze

as if his look

ordained the rubble to become a house,

restored the curtains to the windows,

brought my grandmother back to her armchair,

and retrieved her coloured pills,

put back the sheets on the bed,

the lights on the ceiling,

the pictures on the walls,

as if his look brought the handles back to the doors

and the balconies to the stars,

as if it made us resume our dinner,

as if the world had not collapsed,

as if heaven had ears and eyes.


He went on staring at the emptiness.

I said: What shall we do after the soldiers leave?

What will he do after the soldiers leave?

He slowly clenched his fist

recapturing a boxer’s resolve in his right hand,

his coarse bronze hand,

the hand which had tamed the thorny slope,

the hand which holds his hoe lightly

and with ease like prayer,

his hand which can split a tree stump with a single blow,

his hand open for forgiveness,

his hand closed on sweets to surprise his grandchildren,

his hand amputated

years ago.

Mourid Barghouti, Palestinian poet and writer, 8 July 1944 – 14 February 2021.

May he rest in peace.

*Title art piece by Palestinian artist Khaled Al-Maazi.

Kenn Orphan February 2021

As an independent writer and artist Kenn Orphan depends on donations and commissions. If you would like to support his work and this blog you can do so via PayPal. Simply click here:  DONATE

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