Migrant Serenade

We come to the city; we embrace the pantheon,
but they dream of their one and only god.
They want to be villagers again.

Just when you began to distinguish
the sound of your history from its echo,
they want to be villagers again.

You must not kill their sacred animal;
you must give up your taboo for theirs
for they want to be villagers again.

Sunlight and shadow is what made this rose, you say,
a god who could not have arisen elsewhere
but they want to be villagers again.

The twist in your tongue is the river’s song.
It’s how your feet walk now, how your fingers strum,
but they want to be villagers again.

The dusk of their coffee, their muddy water booze,
the herb of life shooting out of the impeccable concrete,
but they want to be villagers again.

You point to salt escaping the sea’s hold—
a vision of a tundra reclaiming the desiccated grass,
but they want to be villagers again.

You build terraces for the ancient woods to breathe,
but haunted by maggots eating their dead bullock—the speed
of light is always late—they’ve become villagers again.

More Poems by Khaled Mattawa