The Defense Speech

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 90th birthday.

Salah Jahin
Egyptian
1930 – 1986

 

Tonight I dreamed that I was in a horrific situation
Speaking with the words coming out as sobs
Honorable Judges
My defense is simple.
My words are neither deep nor foolish.
Simple
Simple, like the clothes of the helpless barefoot poor
Simple, like a friend’s name on the lips of a friend
Simple, like the tear of an innocent person
Simple, like a hungry beast in the wild,
Simple, like a handful of flour
Honorable Judges, conscience and zeal, O supreme and mighty
My defense is powerful
Powerful, like the cry of a drowning man
Calling for a life boat, calling with the last of his strength, for life
My defense is powerful like an iron hammer
Powerful, like a threatening glare
Powerful, like the statue of a god
Powerful, like the axe of the fireman on the fire doors
Honorable Judges
Honorable, Noble, Great, Grand, Exalted
My defense is supported
Supported by all the great words
By the Torah, the Bible, the Psalms of David,
by the Holy Quran
My defense is supported by the moaning of violins everywhere
by all the rustle of the breeze
by mothers’ lullabies to babies in their cradles
by every “I love you” and “Oh”
by the sound of kisses.
And every true smile
Supports my defense.
And I raise my meek finger
and say my piece
Honorable Judges
Honorable Vultures roving above my corpse
I will say my piece
But before I speak my piece
You tell me
What is my charge

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