1. One square meter of prison.
It’s the door, and beyond it is the paradise of the heart. Our things—and everything is ours—are interchangeable. And the door is a door, the door of metonymy, the door of legend. A door to keep September gentle. A door that invites fields to begin their wheat. The door has no door, yet I can go outside and love both what I see and what I do not see. All of these wonders and beauties are on earth-there-and yet the door has no door? My prison cell accepts no light except into myself. Peace be unto me. Peace be unto the sound barrier. I wrote ten poems to eulogize my freedom, here and there. I love the particles of sky that slip through the skylight-a meter of light where horses race. And I love my mother’s little things, the aroma of coffee in her dress when she opens the door of day to her flocks of hens. I love the fields between Autumn and Winter, the children of our prison guard, and the magazines displayed on a distant sidewalk. I also wrote twenty satiric poems about the place in which we have no place. My freedom is not to be what they want, but to enlarge my prison cell, and carry on my song of the door. A door is a door, yet I can walk out within me, and so on and so forth.
Translated from the Arabic by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forche. Originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2002 issue of Fence.