View this article in French | bilingual

When did their language mingle with ours

so my brother spoke the words of the arbutus
so the mother thickened her sauces with the ash tree’s black resin
 
The female branches made off with the laundry on our lines
the young shoots leapt into our nights
cracked our pavement
The “wanted” poster distributed via winds and tides led to a blackbird
It was he who’d set fire to the forest with a match
He who’d sung Hallelujah mockingly at the old oak tree’s burial
Our careful openings had nothing to do with the mould in the one book we owned
The illiterate mother read its veins
 
© Vénus Khoury-Ghata. By arrangement with the author. Translation  © 2012 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.