Translated from the German by Mark S. Burrows Read the translator's notes

pray loudly against the noise of the human hand
which seeks to drown you out
and appear on quiet soles
so that we might understand your footsteps
exert yourself
in order to recognize our prayers
even when they appear in a different garment
because no prayer ever looses itself from the source of the one praying


take up the speech
by which i pray to you
grant me the gestures
which have grown within me in your absence
so that i might remain true to my uneducable nature
and take your weakness upon me


you should always wander and never let yourself
settle down
because there are no longer any dwelling places
only footsteps
be loud and penetrating
sympathize with me and my stirrings
lead me
all the way to your bread
so that my word might wake


stay by me
even if i nourish myself from ashes and salt
be still and listen to that name
which i lend to you
because i want to distinguish you from the idols
grant me patience to endure those who are vain
with their empty words
and the converts
who are zealous to confirm their opposite
and grant
that my waiting be full of revolt


when you arrive
we will be light
bread and water
the table is set and the door opened
come and take your place among us
free me of the belief
that you are only faithful from a distance
and speak with me
in the unharried language of animals
who from far off lie in wait for us
with their unadulterated hunger

Source: Poetry (March 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2012


SAID is a native of Iran and has lived in Germany since 1965. He has published eight volumes of poetry, as well as several collections of essays, children’s books, and radio plays. Titles appearing in English include Landscapes of a Distant Mother (University of Chicago Press, 2004) and Psalms, translated by Mark S. Burrows (Paraclete Press, 2013).

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Faith & Doubt, God & the Divine


Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.