Dodging news from Gaza for a while.
Bought a red Moleskine notebook to keep track of my reading this year. So many "best of" lists by friends; maybe this way I'll have one to post next December. Should it only be for reading, though? Music? Whiskey? Brands of chocolate stout? (Young's for my birthday a week ago; now we're on to Brooklyn Brewry.)
Today's poem? In honor of the news, how about "Rita and the Rifle," by Mahmoud Darwish? Rita was a young woman--an Israeli Jew, as it happens--that he loved in his youth; the poem was turned into a wildly popular, much-loved song by the Lebanese singer Marcel Khalife. You can find the original Arabic here; after the English, below, I've pasted a performance of the song, one lick of which sounds oddly like the 50's ballad "Mona Lisa" to my ears.
Between Rita and my eyes
There is a rifle
And whoever knows Rita
kneels and prays
to the divinity in those honey-colored eyes.
And I kissed Rita
When she was young
And I remember how she approached
And how my arm covered the loveliest of braids
And I remember Rita
The way a sparrow remembers its stream
Between us there are a million sparrows and images
And many a rendezvous
Fired at by a rifle.
Rita's name was a feast in my mouth
Rita's body was a wedding in my blood
And I was lost in Rita for two years
And for two years she slept on my arm
And we made promises
Over the most beautiful of cups
And we burned in the wine of our lips
And we were born again.
What before this rifle could have turned my eyes from yours
Except a nap or two or honey-colored clouds?
Once upon a time
Oh, the silence of dusk
In the morning my moon migrated to a far place
Towards those honey-colored eyes
And the city swept away all the singers
Between Rita and my eyes--
Here's to a good year--and Lord knows there's plenty of room for improvement!