Poems

Please Don’t Give Birth!

No one predicted
the day I was born:
the breast that fed me
was a jug of amnesia spilt by the invaders.
So I throw myself onto my shadow
to save it from the approaching train;
I bare my chest to spears
as if I were a shield carried by my ancestors;
I climb mountain peaks
the way I stroll along the beach,
as if these mountains were my seas,
their caves my seashells, my days.
Now every tree hides a wall
beneath its bark:
the minute I touch it,
I trespass into the property of strangers;
the minute I sit down on a rock,
it sprouts wings and flies off.
Where can I go?
How can I stumble away
when I hang here like the plait
that splits my lover’s back in two?
when God’s name lashes from the minarets
like whips whipping horseflesh?
No one predicted
the day of my birth.
And the river that bore me
has gone to ground
in a yawning expanse of endless land
that I cross without wings.
Like water, when I evaporate, I soar.
Like water, when I fall, I am pure.
Every time I touch this land,
its belly swells:
please don’t give birth
to another Omani,
an Omani who asks me
how long this century has lasted,
an Omani who invites me to his revels
to drink obedience in a cup —
while a rudderless balloon,
like an exclamation, floats across the sky.

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