I stood in the red church,
its tiny domes like buds
blossoming in stone,
I stood near the saint’s resting place
while a tourist laid her cheek on the tombstone
to hear his beating heart.
But I was no tourist,
and the saint left the room with me,
and the church the builders wrote in his memory
was nothing more
than a passing dream in his eternal sleep.
The tourists come in vain,
as do the believers.
© Najwan Darwish. Translation © 2022 by Kareem James Abu-Zeid.