Please, God, give us books to read

Published on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Mohab Nasr, 2 – 8 August 2012. (Translation by Youssef Rakha).

I was a teacher;
I considered that natural.
For this reason I began to bow
to words I did not say;
and to communicate my respects to my children.  
I tried to make them understand that it was absolutely necessary
for someone to read,
to review with his parents–
while he hurls his shoe under the bed–
how exhausting and beautiful respect is:
that they have no future without words.
You yourself, Dad,
are bowed over the newspaper
as if a cloud is passing over you;
and when I call out to you,
I see your temple
stamped with melancholy,
as if it was raining specifically for your sake.
Read, Dad,
and call my mother too to read.
Let the cloud pass over all of us.
Please, God,
give us books to read:
books that smell of glue,
their pages like knives;
that cough out dust in our faces
so that we realise our life is a cemetery;
whose covers bear a dedication from the respected author
to the retired bureau director;
cleanshaven in preparation for being slapped
and others that howl
in the margins
at people who, like us, loved
and, like us, became teachers;
books in the form of Aloha shirts
at the Reading Festival;
books on whose giant trunks we can urinate
to unburden ourselves as we go on walking … //
… (full text).


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