After the Only Known Poem by Abd Al’ Rahman
The palm-tree I beheld in far Westralia,
far from what might be called its origin, far from things familiar.
I shouted: You and I are far away, in a weird place among strangers!
I have been away from home so long nobody knows me, nowhere!
You, too, have grown up in a world where you are still called a stranger.
You: refugee, foreigner, exile, Unbeliever! Stranger,
know that there are now so many of us – reincarnated nobodies – everywhere.
May someone one day say that we weren’t merely illegals, wanderers.
May we someday be discovered somewhere far away, far away from this Westralia.
Midst the cork groves,
‘crows-nests’ high up the unrigged masts
imaginary fleets have abandoned
to daylight. Where are the lookouts
beholding an approaching shore?
In Idanha-a-Velha, the messy stork’s nest,
like tumbleweed lodged atop the squat steeple
was a blank speech-bubble awaiting
this tale told by Juan Goytisolo in Dejemaa el-Fna,
then retold by a Magrabi poet:
The man from Marrakesh became a stork,
flew across the Mediterranean
seeking his wife who journeyed there to work.
He found her in France, living with a businessman…
With my distant Beloved in mind,
I am recalling this as I, heading back
towards the Spanish border, speed past another empty
stork’s nest hovering on a tall plinth,
awaiting its hero.