Before You Came


Before you came,
things were as they should be:
the sky was the dead-end of sight,
the road was just a road, wine merely wine.

Now everything is like my heart,
a color at the edge of blood:
the grey of your absence, the color of poison, of thorns,
the gold when we meet, the season ablaze,
the yellow of autumn, the red of flowers, of flames,
and the black when you cover the earth
with the coal of dead fires.

And the sky, the road, the glass of wine?
The sky is a shirt wet with tears,
the road a vein about to break,
and the glass of wine a mirror in which
the sky, the road, the world keep changing.

Don't leave now that you're here–
Stay. So the world may become like itself again: so the sky may be the sky,
the road a road,
and the glass of wine not a mirror, just a glass of wine.


                                                        Arabic; trans. Naomi Lazard


Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Arabic, trans. Naomi Lazard, The True Subject: Selected Poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Princeton University Press, 1987.