Erasure – A Poem from Palestine

Translator’s note: My father Abdul Karim Sabawi never published this poem before although he did publish countless of books of poetry.

He said this one he kept in his heart like a blade that pierced him and released a bitter poison of doubt that he too would become part of a nation ethnically cleansed and driven into extinction.

By Abdul Karim Sabawi

When you were parched

We quenched your thirst

With our blood

Now

We carry your burden

Disgraced

We cry in shame

When asked

Where do you come from?

Dishonoured we die
If only the stray bullets

From the occupier’s guns

Were merciful

That they pierced through our legs

It only they tore through our knees

If only we sunk in your soil

Deep to our necks

If only we got stuck

And became the salt of your earth

The nutrients in your fertile soil

If only we didn’t leave
The gates of our hearts

Are wide open to misery

Don’t ask us where this wind is blowing

Don’t ask us about a house

Or windows

Or trees

The Bulldozers were here

The Bulldozers were here

And the houses in our village

Fell…

Like a row of decayed teeth
They haven’t colonized Mars yet

And the moon is barren

Uninhabitable

So carry your children

Your memories

And follow me

We can live in the books of history
They’ll write about us…

“The wicked Bedouins

Landed in Baghdad

They landed in Yafa

They landed in Grenada

Then they moved on

They packed their belongings

And rode on their camels

They didn’t leave their print on the red clay

And all their artifacts

Were faded

With the passing of the years”
What does it mean to the world?

What does it really mean?An Arab…

A Native Indian…

A Dinosaur


– Abdel Karim Sabawi is a Palestinian poet.  He wrote this on that painful morning when he woke up and found himself a refugee away from home in Jordan in 1967. 

(Translated by Samah Sabawi on the 63rd commemoration of Nakba.)

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