I waited for you in the garden. I didn’t know how long it would be before you would arrive but I knew you’d be there. We both needed the sanctuary from the world; a place of quiet contemplation, a place of peace, a place to be together. But for now I kept company with the birds and the flowers and the ornaments which adorned the beds. The angel was nearly covered in ivy. Only her face and outstretched wings were partially revealed. She neither smiled nor frowned but to me she appeared a little bit sad. If it were possible to breathe life into her she may have shed a tear. As I walked toward her, I could see how the ivy leaves subtly followed the curves of her stone body and I wondered how long she had been there. It was almost as if she were begging to be freed from the bounds of the entwining branches. I thought about how she, when first carefully placed here by a loving owner, must have been an ethereal presence in this microcosm of nature and beauty.
The area wasn’t large but was dominated by a magnificent Laurel tree. Its branches reached upward and outward as if it were calling to the heavens. Large, voluminous clouds hung above the tree, so low it seemed one might catch on the tallest branches. The blue of the sky and the warmth of the sun gave the day a purity I have not experienced in so long. A mourning dove settled in the tree’s branches and another on the stone wall behind the angel. They called to one another sorrowfully in a way, but in another way, it was if they were glad they had one another to share their sorrow. They flitted their wings and blinked their large doe-like eyes. I wondered what they had seen when they were up in the skies with the clouds and circling above the earth before lighting here. Perhaps it was a perspective we all needed to refresh our love for the world. Perhaps it was a view which would only sadden us and make us sing sorrowfully as well. I asked them but they gave me no answer and continued about their business of gathering food as if I did not exist. Maybe you would be able to tell me when you arrived. If I remembered to ask.
A soft, warm breeze blew rustling the leaves and altering the tranquility of the entire place. It was still peaceful but was different than it had been moments before. The iron gate creaked slightly and I turned quickly to see if it was you but it was just the wind calling. If only it had brought you with it. Maybe next time, I hoped, maybe with the next gust. I longed to see your tall figure and your inimitable smile. My hands moved over the rough surface of the painted metal table and I held my breath for a moment. What if I was wrong? What if you weren’t going to arrive? No. You would. You always did. A small lady bug crawled out from underneath a peeled piece of paint and lingered in the dappled shade. I leaned my chin on my hands and watched the insect closely. Everything about it indicated that it would flee at the slightest provocation and yet it seemed determined to stay in what had become its home. How could I blame it? I longed for my home.
Suddenly you were there. Without a word our lips met and I breathed again. The scent of the flowers mixed with your cologne overpowered my senses. I felt a tear push a path down my cheek and, as you brushed it away with another kiss, I thought of the angel. You held me tight, so strong were your arms that I felt as though they would shield me forever from the world; here in this garden, here away from it all, here with you. Over your shoulder I spotted the doves standing side by side on the fence seemingly unaware of the presence of each other and yet somehow needing the proximity. How did you find this heavenly place, you asked. I don’t think I found it, I think it found me. I looked up again into the laurel and your eyes followed mine. The leaves were iridescent with the sun’s rays, a beautiful golden green…or were those your eyes? Bhebak nour eyouni. As my hand traced your temple, your cheek and then your jaw, you pulled me in close to you. The rest of the world was gone. I glanced again at the stone angel and I could swear she was smiling but I had no chance to dwell as your lips caught mine again and I was lost in you forever.
You were the first to respond. Your words were simple and direct but heartwarming to someone like me who had just come in out of the cold. I couldn’t explain it, but I was suddenly hooked. I came back, week after week looking for more. Over the years and across the miles no one had spoken so gently but left me feeling so secure. Shukran. I was warm and comfortable in this new little garden of mine even though, back in those days, everything felt strange everywhere else. Life seemed lost between two worlds.
I often thought of you as I sat in the courtyard. The first time you were away, and your words never came, I felt the void. It was surprising to me but that’s when I knew. Meshta’etlak. The water in the fountain sang the same song it always had but the tune was different. I splashed in it, like a child, and watched as the jubilant droplets formed endless ripples. I watched the ripples merge, separate into new ripples, and then merge again. This would be our story.
Paperless letters fluttered through my dreams. Penned opuses of love and life, addressed to you and to me. You extended your hand and we walked through the pages, admiring the verses, breathing the poetry. You carried me over the broken edges, the rough patches that needed mending. I caressed the songs in your soul. Whispered to them to join mine. It was those lyrics, words like black, silken ribbons of emotion, memory, and hope that fluttered, care-free in the breezes. Banners of our hearts. Pennants of devotion. Bhebak.
Happy Eid al-Adha.
To all my readers and friends who are celebrating.
From my family to yours.
Hello dear readers,
I have not posted in a very long time, I know, and I do hope to again soon. For now my concerns are with my country, my people, and especially my family.
Writing this post was made necessary by an unscrupulous blogger. Back in September I chose to downgrade from having my own address on WordPress (http://mariyahsblog.com) to using my original WordPress address, the one you are visiting now. Today I received a message from Toot that I had been featured, which confused me since I haven’t been writing. I soon discovered that someone had swooped in and started using my old address, my name, and my byline to publish under. Luckily the posts are simply about health and not an offensive topic, but the fact remains that they have essentially stolen ME!
I’m very upset by this and am hoping that WordPress support will be able to assist me in, at least, forcing this blogger, whoever they are, to stop using my name. If any of you are familiar with copyright laws and if they extend to a name, I would certainly appreciate your assistance in the matter. In fact, any advice on how to fight this would be wonderful.
I miss you all dearly and hope you are safe and well.
A amazing lunar eclipse graced our skies at around 10 pm last night – or least that is when it seemed to become most visible. Many of us, eager to witness this wonderful event, found the highest or most open point attainable to us and watched with pure delight. I sat on the rooftop of my friend’s apartment with a dozen others. We watched the moon rise, bright and full, and then slowly darken as the shadow of the earth obscured the rays of the sun. I lay back and gazed at the traces of the moon that were left in a starlit sky. It’s ghostly aura reminded me of one of my favourite poems by my favourite poet, the great Nizar Qabbani – A Damascene Moon. In English, only excerpts are available, unfortunately, but the part that is translated is probably, to most, the most stunning part of the poem. Below is that excerpt, first in English, then in Arabic.
After seeing what I have this past night, I find it regrettable that it wasn’t something that the entire world could witness first hand. I supposed that is part of the wonder of these events. One thing I do know, however, is that everyone everywhere with vision can appreciate the magic of moonlight and it has been this way for millennia. As long as people have been on earth, the moon has been the subject of science, art, songs, prose, and beautiful, beautiful poetry…
Green Tunisia, I have come to you as a lover
On my brow, a rose and a book
For I am the Damascene whose profession is passion
Whose singing turns the herbs green
A Damascene moon travels through my blood
Nightingales . . . and grain . . . and domes
From Damascus, jasmine begins its whiteness
And fragrances perfume themselves with her scent
From Damascus, water begins . . . for wherever
You lean your head, a stream flows
And poetry is a sparrow spreading its wings
Over Sham . . . and a poet is a voyager
From Damascus, love begins . . . for our ancestors
Worshipped beauty, they dissolved it, and they melted away
From Damascus, horses begin their journey
And the stirrups are tightened for the great conquest
From Damascus, eternity begins . . . and with her
Languages remain and genealogies are preserved
And Damascus gives Arabism its form
And on its land, epochs materialize
يا تونس الخضراء جئتك عاشقاً ………….. وعلى جبيني وردة وكـتــــــــاب
إني الدمشقي الذي احترف الهوى…………… فأخضوضرت لغنائه الأعشاب
أحرقت من خلفي جميع مراكبي……………ان الهوى ان لا يكون إيـــــــــاب
أنا فوق أجفان النساء مكســــــــر…………… قطعاً فعمري الموج والأخشـاب
لم أنس أسماء النساء وأنمـــــــا …………. للحسن أسباب ولي أسبــــــــــــاب
يا ساكنات البحر في قرطاجــة ……………جف الشذى وتفرق الأصحـــــاب
أين اللواتي حبهن عبــــــــــــــادة ………. وغيابهن وقربهن عــــــــــــــــذاب
اللابسات قصائدي ومدامعـــــي ………….عاتبتهن وما أفاد عتــــــــــــــــــاب
أحببتهن وهن ما أحببننـــــــــــــي ……… وصدقتهن ووعدهن كــــــــــــــذاب
إني لأشعر بالدوار فناهــــــــــــد……….. لي يطمئن وناهد يرتــــــــــــــــاب
هل دولة العشق التي أسستهــــا ……….. سقطت علي وسدت الأبــــــــــواب
تبكي الكؤوس فبعد ثغـر حبيبتي ………… حلفت بأن لا تسكر الأعنــــــــاب
أيصدني نهد تعبت برسمــــــــه …………وتخونني الأقراط والأثـــــــــــواب
ماذا جرى لممالكي وبيارقـــــــي ………. أدعو رباب فلا تجيب ربـــــــــاب
أأحاسب امرأة على نسيانهــــــا ………… ومتى أستقام مع النساء حســـــاب
ما تبت عن عشقي ولا أستغفرته ………….ما أسخف العشاق لو هم تابـــــوا
قمر دمشقي يسافر في دمـــــي …………. وبلابل وسنابل وقبــــــــــــــــــاب
الفل يبدأ من دمشق بياضــــــه ……………. وبعطرها تتطيب الأطيــــــــاب
والماء يبدأ من دمشق ..فحيثمـا………….. أسندت رأسك جدول ينســــــــاب
والشعر عصفور يمد جناحــــه …………فوق الشآم وشاعر جــــــــــــــــواب
والحب يبدأ من دمشق فأهلنـــــا………… عبدوا الجمال وذوبوه وذابــــــــــوا
والخيل تبدأ من دمشق مسارهـا……….. وتشد للفتح الكبير ركـــــــــــــــــاب
والدهر يبدأ من دمشق وعندهــا……….. تبقى اللغات وتحفظ الأنســـــــــــاب
ودمشق تعطي للعروبة شكلهـا …………..وبأرضها تتشكل الأحقـــــــــــــاب