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
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
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