Friday, September 16, 2022


You Can't

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

 —selected poems

Milkweed Editions 2020