They will fall in the end,
those who say you can't.
It'll be age or boredom that overtakes them,
or lack of imagination.
Sooner or later, all leaves fall to the ground.
You can be the last leaf.
You can convince the universe
that you pose no threat
to the tree's life.
She wished he'd been the first
she had loved and the last she would love.
The kind of wishes that repeat in love
stories and in stories of death:
"I wish today was the last day of this world
and that you were my final love."
Mere wishes to bombard time with.
Truly infidel wishes —
like wanting to be someone else
with kinder parents
who buy more presents for her
in a house with central heating
and windows overlooking the sea —
blind wishes that don't quit.
She wished it was love
like any love
patting her eyelids in the evening
as she waited on the balcony,
gathering her feelings with invocations,
fragrance, food, and kisses.
A love worth a thousand loves,
a love with two hands.
I'll write about a joy that invades Jenin from six directions,
about children running while holding balloons in Am'ari Camp,
about a fullness that quiets breastfeeding babies all night in Askar,
about a little sea we can stroll up and down in Tulkarem,
about eyes that stare in people's faces in Balata,
about a woman dancing
for people in line at the checkpoint in Qalandia,
about stitches in the sides of laughing men in Azzoun,
about you and me
stuffing our pockets with seashells and madness
and building a city.
Maya Abu Al-Hayyat
trans. Fady Joudah
You Can Be the Last Leaf
Milkweed Editions 2020