The Art of Waiting according to Mahmoud Darwish

A story in 3 acts, inspired by the poetry of M. Darwish.

I. Wait for Her

Wait for her with an azure cup.
Wait for her in the evening at the spring, among perfumed roses.
Wait for her with the patience of a horse trained for mountains.
Wait for her with the distinctive, aesthetic taste of a prince.
Wait for her with seven pillows of cloud.
Wait for her with strands of womanly incense wafting.
Wait for her with the manly scent of sandalwood on horseback.
Wait for her and do not rush.
If she arrives late, wait for her.
If she arrives early, wait for her.
Do not frighten the birds in her braided hair.
Wait for her to sit in a garden at the peak of its flowering.
Wait for her so that she may breathe this air, so strange to her heart.
Wait for her to lift her garment from her leg, cloud by cloud.
And wait for her.
Take her to the balcony to watch the moon drowning in milk.
Wait for her and offer her water before wine.
Do not glance at the twin partridges sleeping on her chest.
Wait and gently touch her hand as she sets a cup on marble.
As if you are carrying the dew for her, wait.
Speak to her as a flute would to a frightened violin string,
as if you knew what tomorrow would bring.
Wait, and polish the night for her ring by ring.
Wait for her until Night speaks to you thus:
There is no one alive but the two of you.
So take her gently to the death you so desire,
and wait.

Mahmoud Darwish declaiming Wait for Her

II. While you are waiting

Anticipating gets me a craze thinking of the many possibilities:
Perhaps she forgot her small purse in the train,
she lost my address and the mobile phone
lost her appetite and said: he is not destined to get a piece of the light rain
or perhaps she got preoccupied with an emergency matter
or a trip towards the south to visit the sun,
and called, but did not find me in the morning;
as I went out to buy a Gardenia for our night
and two bottles of wine
or perhaps she had a disagreement with the former husband
regarding old memories ,
and swore not to see a man threatening her to make new memories
or perhaps she hit a Taxi in her way to me
and the planets of her galaxy switched off,
and she still being treated with sedatives and drowsiness
or perhaps she looked in the mirror before coming out of herself,
detected two large pears vibrating out of her silk,
sobbed and hesitated:
does anyone deserves my femininity other than I
or perhaps she crossed,
coincidentally, a former Love that she has not recovered from,
and joined him to dinner
or perhaps she died,
like me, death falls in love suddenly,
and like me, death does not like anticipating.

III. When She doesn’t come

She didn’t come. I said: And she won’t…so
let me rearrange the evening with what suits my failure
and her absence:
I put out the flame of her candles,
I turned on the electric lights,
drank her wine then broke the glass
and switched the music: from the swift violins
to Persian songs.
I said: She won’t come. So I loosened my elegant
necktie (to relax more) and put on
my blue pajama. I could walk barefoot
if I want. And sit cross-legged, sagging
on her sofa, to forget her
and forget all the things of absence.
Then I put back in the drawers what I had prepared
for our party. I opened the windows and pulled back the curtains.
I stood in front of the night, my body holding no secret
other than what I waited for and lost…
and I mocked my obsession with purifying the air for her
(I had sprayed rose and lemon water).
She won’t come…I will move the orchid
from the right to the left to punish her forgetfulness…
I will cover up the mirror with a coat, I don’t want to see
her radiant image…and add to my regret.
I said: Forget what you have chosen for her
of ancient love lines, she doesn’t even deserve
a plagiarized poem…
Then I forgot her, ate my quick meal standing,
and read a chapter in a school book
about our distant planets,
and wrote, to overlook her harm, a poem,
this poem.

Mahmoud Darwish declaiming poems II and III.

Mahmoud Darwish.

I. Poem ‘Lesson from Kamasutra’, from
II. Poem ‘The art of Anticipation’, from Confessions of a bipolar poet.
III. Poem ‘She didn’t come’, from Thought of Xanadu.


3 thoughts on “The Art of Waiting according to Mahmoud Darwish

  1. Nothing replaces the original version of poems, of course,… but the translation is correct (although not very beautiful). I always look for the best ones before posting.
    Literally it says:
    “if she arrived after her rendezvous, then wait for her.
    and if she arrived before her rendezvous, then wait for her.”
    Yes, he’s clever enough to challenge rational logic. You can give the verse your own interpretation :-)

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