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"Prayer for Homs"
By Faraj Bayrakdar
I will come to Homs shortly, I will enter it safely, protected by its people and my faith in them. For almost twenty years of absence, obsession and delusion. for twenty years abandoned at its crossroads the guards overwhelmed me with weapons I did not see tore at me with weapons I did not see, but I will come to the city any way she accepts me. Wouldn’t this city buy me even for a few herbs, spices, welcomes? I will come to this city even as a refugee if the meaning of refuge has changed, deleted from its old dictionary. But how would I create a dictionary of Homs? When I have no Imam whose prayers could remove my doubt, but I have a God for whom I recite his verses privately until dawn reveals the city's face, when the dawn tells us: You are safe of whatever you say or don't, believers and nonbelievers, for all those who lit up its promises with candles in their fingers so the city can see its tomorrow, our people. Homs, whose mother is Syria, is above all suspicions. I will come to Homs alone, I will come to her with love and affection, It's Homs which baptized me and Islamized me. It is only fitting I belong to her. A thousand loves, sorrows, and a river of memories, for her to recover and for me to heal.
This poem will appear in Al Jadid, Vol. 17, no. 65
Translated from the Arabic by Basma Botros and Paige Donnelly The Arabic text appeared in the Beirut-based Nawafez magazine