The Witness


The Witness

Nathalie Handal




The witness witnesses himself

in the gaze of a bruised child

in the throat of a national song

in the chest of an oak tree, a walnut tree

in the heartland of lime tree after lime tree

in the testimony written on yellowing paper

in a month, not about to finish

in the mute rivers surrounding the pregnant wife

of a young warrior

in the footsteps of folk dancers

in the bloody gates of government buildings

in the dark gray gusts of wind


The witness stands between leafless trees

laments dead refugees, observes the cloud's beard

and the dullness of the sky after days of bombing,

thinks of those in warm beds while naked bodies

weave their last prayers under the snow, realize that

hospitals no longer give life, only death roams the sheets

who will finish all the unfinished sentences-

like the one standing in the middle of a whole dream with an empty gun


The witness looks at the dead years piled up on lost chests

coughs in the cough of winter and leaves the conversation

he has with himself in a broken ashtray

somewhere in this divided country

and the witness says, the heart is like time with fewer seconds

the witness witnesses his heart stopping

as time moves on