Fighter jets

(Editor’s Note: Read more about Iraqi poet Faleeha Hassan’s life by clicking here. Two of her other poems were also published in this week’s Sundaze.)

by Faleeha Hassan

During moments I yearned for forests grown for me alone,

Caressing them in a dream,

I could sense the throbbing of the heart

Hidden beneath my ribs to bless my journey.

Summoning me with a pulse that he recognizes in me.

I heard the noise of abandoned smoke from a moment of care

Join with me,

Forcefully traversing desires to the hidden-most one.

My spirit swung toward him,

Creating a tingling

On lips that devour breaths alive.

I felt ashamed,

But the eye,

In moments—I scarcely know what to call them—that took me on another route

Toward the television, saw warplanes . . . spray death on them.

At that moment,

The fire of machine guns raked all the bodies,

And another fire raked my body when I trained my eye on him

Hesitantly inclining his head

Toward a shoulder unaccustomed to the secret of the stars of war

Or to insomnia.

Oh . . . . I leaned on it!

And when he caressed a dumbfounded person

I felt his fingers like coiling embers inside me.

Bashfulness seized the excuse this caress gave . . . and vanished,

Eliminating distance till the two of us were one.

And the eye—he moaned: May love not forgive her the eye—repeated another evasion

Toward a drizzle of men flung about in the air by just the rustling of a pilot penetrating a building

To fall on screens as the debris of breaking news.

But his breaths . . . shattering the still down of the cheek,

And turning their picture into mist as

Eddies of the screen’s corpses . . . varieties of death that they brought them.

The spirit that became a body,

The body that was sold for the sake of a touch,

The eye that was concealed in his image

And that approached the firebrand of conflagrations.

Everyone drawing close to everyone,




But the thunder of their machine guns splintered them:

Corpses piled on corpses,

I mean on me,

The eyes of those in it were extinguished.

They slept in a trench of silence.

My eyes’ lids parted in a wakefulness obsessed with them.

I rose … and embraced the chill

That the screens brought me in commemoration of Stalingrad.

Translated by William Hutchins