Skip to main content
Outdated Browser

For the best experience using our website, we recommend upgrading your browser to a newer version or switching to a supported browser.

More Information

Poetry

[Come here, Death, and let me feed you]

By Ahlam Bisharat
Translated from Arabic by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
In two poems composed since October 7, 2023, Ramallah-based writer Ahlam Bisharat ruminates on the myriad manifestations of death in Gaza.
Pedestrians walk on a dirt road in the city of Gaza
Photo by Emad El Byed on Unsplash

***

Come here, Death, and let me feed you;
Here in the chicken coop.
Here in the lamb’s pen.
Here are some greens.

There is a woman here, alone, watching Death,
trying to lull it to sleep
with her hands and to trap it
with the other domesticated animals.

****

I’m flipping between news stations
and the words I used to listen to before I can no longer hear.
Even the moans of suffering that made me ache—I’ve stashed them away
in a bag of old laments. I’ve seen the photograph
of the entire family that died
so many times, there’s no use in seeing it again.
The image of the boy with the curly hair
has been painted everywhere with all sorts of writings
that add nothing to his beauty.
I select a death among all the deaths
and I gather its parts to bury it,
to make space for a new kind of death.
Come and see—there are so many kinds of death!
So many but I favor one death over another
just as doctors to whom God granted employment in Gaza do
—did they know, when they took their oath, what their work would be?
I choose one death over another:
This is a death that cost its owner his life.
This one is an elegant death.
This one a terrified death.
This one a great death.
This one a beautiful death.
This is a death that was tardy but finally arrived,
this is death that never did.
This is the photograph of the lone survivor of the war
I walk around and around in my house holding it in my hands.
With time, none of this death will become a poem.
The dead will simply arrive after their long absence.

 

© 2024 Ahlam Bisharat. By arrangement with the author. Translation © Lena Khalaf Tuffaha. All rights reserved.
 
English

***

Come here, Death, and let me feed you;
Here in the chicken coop.
Here in the lamb’s pen.
Here are some greens.

There is a woman here, alone, watching Death,
trying to lull it to sleep
with her hands and to trap it
with the other domesticated animals.

****

I’m flipping between news stations
and the words I used to listen to before I can no longer hear.
Even the moans of suffering that made me ache—I’ve stashed them away
in a bag of old laments. I’ve seen the photograph
of the entire family that died
so many times, there’s no use in seeing it again.
The image of the boy with the curly hair
has been painted everywhere with all sorts of writings
that add nothing to his beauty.
I select a death among all the deaths
and I gather its parts to bury it,
to make space for a new kind of death.
Come and see—there are so many kinds of death!
So many but I favor one death over another
just as doctors to whom God granted employment in Gaza do
—did they know, when they took their oath, what their work would be?
I choose one death over another:
This is a death that cost its owner his life.
This one is an elegant death.
This one a terrified death.
This one a great death.
This one a beautiful death.
This is a death that was tardy but finally arrived,
this is death that never did.
This is the photograph of the lone survivor of the war
I walk around and around in my house holding it in my hands.
With time, none of this death will become a poem.
The dead will simply arrive after their long absence.

 

Read Next

Shelves of books in a library