New Gaza

Marwan Makhoul

[Improvisations by Oumenia El Khalif]

اردو (Urdu) translation by Tanveer Anjum | हिन्दी (Hindi) translation by Richa Nagarதமிழ் (Tamil) translation by Kavitha Muralidharan | മലയാളം (Malayalam) translation by Anupama Anamangad | বাংলা (Bangla) translation by Shamita Das Dasgupta | French translation by Houda Majdoub | Spanish translation by Dora Suárez | मराठी (Marathi) translation by AnamikaAmharic translation by Surafel Wondimu Abebeမြန်မာ (Burmese) translation by Ma Chinthe فارسی (Farsi) translation by Kiana Kazemi | Aremenian translation by Ruzanna Grigoryan | Telugu translation by Mamatha Kodidela

New Gaza

No time left
so don’t linger in your mother’s womb
my little boy hurry arrive
not because I long for you
but because war is raging
I fear you will not see
your country as I’d wish for you.

Your country is not soil
nor sea that foresaw our fate and died:
it is your people.
Come get to know it
before the bombs mutilate
and I am forced to gather the remains
for you to know that those gone were beautiful
and innocent.
That they had children just like you
they let escape
from the freezers for the dead
at every raid to skip as orphans
on a lifeline.

If you’re late you may not
believe me and believe it is a land
without a people
and that we were not really here at all.
Twice exiled, then we revolted
against our luck
for seventy-five years
once luck turned all bad
and hope turned grey.

The burden’s too heavy
too much for you to bear
I know, forgive me for like a gazelle
giving birth I am afraid
of hyenas lying in wait to pounce behind
the pit. Come quick then run
as far as you can
so I’m not ravaged by regret.

Last night, despair exhausted me
I said, keep quiet.
What’s it to do with him?
My little one, child of the breeze,
what’s the Storm to do with him?
But today I am compelled to come back
bearing breaking news:
They bombed the Baptist Hospital in Gaza
among the 500 victims was a child
who calls to his brother, half his head blown off
eyes open: “My brother!
Can you see me?”
He does not see him
just like the frantic world
that condemned for two hours then slept
to forget him
and forget his brother
does not see him.

What to tell you now?
Disaster and catastrophe are sisters
both ravenous and raging they attack me
until my lips tremble and from them drop
all possible synonyms for
In time of war don’t count on any poet
he’s as slow as a tortoise
making a futile effort to race a massacre
that runs like a hare.
The tortoise creeps
and the hare leaps from crime to crime
as far as the Orthodox Church, now bombed
in the sight of God who’s just come from
a mosque razed to dust they targeted
in the sanctuary of the saviour. Where is the saviour
when our Father who art in heaven actually is the airplane
one alone and with no partner
save the one on board who came to bomb us
but the target hit is our submission.
My child, on the cross now
there’s enough room for all the prophets.
God knows all
but you and innocent foetuses like you
are yet to know.

Translated by Raphael Cohen

The translations of this poem have been organized by a transnational solidarity effort. Translations in Urdu, Tamil, Malayalam, Bangla, Marathi, Armenian, and Telugu were first published by India Civil Watch International

Suggested citation:

Makhoul, M. & various translators. 2024. “New Gaza.” In Eds. Richa Nagar, Abdul Aijaz, and Nithya Rajan, Special Volume on “Ecologies of Violence and Haunting: Listening to Chup,” AGITATE! 5:

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