Noah’s Flood

Amal Donqol
Egyptian
1940 – 1983

 

Noah’s flood is coming nearer!
The city is sinking little… by little
Birds flee
And water rises
On the steps of houses
Shops
The post office
Banks
Statues (of our immortal ancestors)
Temples
Wheat sacks
Maternity hospitals
The prison gate
The State House
The corridors of fortified barracks.
Birds are leaving
Slowly…
Slowly…
Geese on the water float
Furniture floats…
And a child’s toy…
And a gasp of a sad mother
Young women on the roofs waver!
Noah’s flood is coming nearer
Here are “the wise men” fleeing to the ship
The singers, the prince’s horseman, the usurers, the judge of judges
(And his Mamlouk…),
The sword bearer, the temple dancer
(She rejoiced when she picked up her wig…)
Tax collectors, weapons importers,
The princess’s lover in his radiant effeminate manner
Noah’s flood is coming nearer.
Here are the cowards fleeing to the ship
While I was…
The city’s youth were
Bridling the unruly horse of the water
Carrying water on both shoulders.
And racing time
They were building stone dams for themselves
Hoping to save the bosom of youth and civilization
Hoping to save…the homeland!
…the master of the Ark shouted at me—before the advent
Of quietude:
“Escape from a country…where the spirit is no longer!”
I said:
Blessed are those who ate its bread…
In days of prosperity
And turned their back on it
In times of adversity!
Glory to us, we who have stood
(God has obliterated our names!)
to defy destruction…
And seek refuge in a mountain that doesn’t die
(They call it ‘the people’!)
We refuse to flee…
And we refuse to wander!
My heart, knit with injuries
Cursed by commentaries
Is resting, now, on the city’s remains
A blossom bland
Still…
After it said “No” to the ship …
and loved the homeland

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