"A Gaze, It Is Blue"

Safaa Fathy


It was a grain of sand
opened time where the roads cross
I had no fear of myself but the mirrors terrified me when I looked at all
        these stories
Salt was
a mountain appearing with each picture pulled from memory’s box
The years harbor ships I journeyed on and others I wished I had seen
        even from afar

Renal failure carved on a coin
you toss
pictures you’ll forget are drawn in the air
When the other mountain rose
on its peak two boys grown from years of dialysis
I split from the one who was asleep
my shadow crossed walls
returning to a place, or a certain hour

Death was a promise of water that never left his insides

In the dusty place, I perceived a tent
transparent in the light
A revolution’s face lit up
it was a glowing ring whirling
a voice sprang from a red brick forest’s clamor
or from the asphalt’s rising columns of white gas
an instant has fallen from time
Where have you gone, writer of the letter?
Where are you now, who sleep in the blue gaze?
This mountain of faces throws eyes to the street
to my lens

spits the taste of salt
on the side of the path

I had a brother…and another brother
he flew away with the fugitives
soared from a bed under repair
there was basil at the Nasser Institute
I had two brothers; now only one with eagles
I had a vast heart my chest couldn’t hold, the other elsewhere
She is the one who comes to go
the un-homeland became a place
there, a glass of tea and an icon in which I imprisoned my face
that loved weeping

The angel of history runs facing the past
they’ll come to it carrying on their heads this map
with this slogan
that crossed the places of the valley without knife or blade
yet the grass was the people who want…*

Your voice disappeared
while you hit the wall next to the bed
screaming with your fists
I learnt that the disobedience of cities and streets slept in your heart
your body became a tree and your screams
strayed to the ground of the Square, one after the other
then dawn water drops on a stone plateau

There was a bag I would have carried, climbing over any barrier
I look at you, shrouded and resuscitated
from a stay of several years
“You, how are you doing, how are you?”

You were dying voiceless

I whispered into his ears with all the others
after he died
"Raise your voice Mohammad, Mohammad: raise your voice."

                                 Cairo, 6 October 2011 — Italy, 20 August 2012

* The main slogan in all the Arab revolutions was: The people want the regime to fall.

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Author Bio: Safaa Fathy was born in Egypt; she has been a director of program at the International College of Philosophy in Paris. A poet, filmmaker, and essayist, her most recent films are Mohammad Saved from the Waters, Derrida’s Elsewhere, and a film poem Nom à la mer. Jacques Derrida, with whom she wrote the book Tourner les mots au bord d’un film, prefaced her plays Terreur and Ordalie.