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Two Contemporary Poets

Spring, 2004

Robert Bohm

Note After Midnight

for Ahmed Dahbur*

In the headlights, night rain washes dirt
down the embankment into the cracked driveway.
The parked car's engine runs. The tiny
overhead lamp, on.

Behind the steering wheel, I read your words:
"I pursue a black rose growing in my heart
while the evidence overwhelms me."

Yes, the evidence. The rain beats the car's roof.
Like a refugee's garbled code, the sound
sends a chill through me.

Inside your existence, your friend with a notebook disappears.
Somehow, thousands of miles away, he kisses the back
of my hand, leaving his bloody lip prints there.
Children with explosives tied to their bellies
blow up in our mouths months later when we talk.

In the rained on car, I look at my hands.
They glow like open furnaces.
Among the coals, I see teeth and bones.

In my dreams nothing stolen is returned.
Not one grape to one vine.
Not the robbed sound of feet fleeing death in Fakhani and the camps.
Not the smell of stewed vegetables or the home
in which they were cooked years ago before the dislocation. 

*Ahmed Dahbur (1946-) Palestinian poet.  As a child his family fled war-torn Haifa to live in Lebanon.