Safaa Fathy


A witness said: they lived and they died.

Should the Innocent have to die because he flies over the earth?

His mother is walled in the time of flood,

the sun is merciless with mortal remains.

One Kasr lion* has lost an eye; the two lions lost their Nile eyes,

the desert is fire and blood, tracks and birds of prey

they settle on that Party building still burning

Arms with hands are weapons, right in "Things fall apart" Square

on this impotent day, in this old country, where water, like shame,

has dried out, the land's members devoured by wild beasts

In the months of March, April, November or December

there was a pyramid and an old king who in silence witnessed

his dwelling turned into a

torture chamber

Then the Armed Forces sneak into the yellowed photo,

a crescent of wax statues

dressed in military uniforms the color of illusion

like phantoms arising from a white block of ice

Meanwhile those still at time's young edge

bring the eagles down with their wings


The Sea Islands are velvet cloth; I see feet by the thousands

that brush past as they fly toward the Other Time

or toward the hour of the dream of death

at the dawn of the universe where naked arms embrace paradise

where the young ones dream and die

where the innocent is martyr

where the murderer wanders

his head sprinkled with dust

where beauty is terrifying

the new beginning will not bring them back here

"They die and we live"

                                 Cairo, 6 October 2011 — Italy, 20 August 2012



* Kasr el Nil bridge is protected by two stone lions. During the events of Mohammad Mahmoud Street a bandage was placed on an eye of each of them in reference to the revolutionaries who lost eyes.

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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.