Palestinian town of Iqrit, destroyed by the IDF during the Nakba. 1948.


Quoted from “In the Presence of Absence“, by Mahmoud Darwish:

“At the end of the night you can only sleep with the help of a sleeping pill. When
you wake up, you need some time to be convinced that you are in Gaza, which
you then describe as “the city of misery and might.” Late in the sultry morning
you go together with some returning friends to visit the camps. It is hard to walk
in the alleys, and your own cleanliness and access to water shames you. You do
not believe, and never did, that these holding tanks of misery are a necessary
step toward immortalizing or affirming the right of return. But you remember
what you really should forget: the world’s conscience. You vilify theories of
progress and the teleology of history, which might take humanity back to the
Stone Age. To keep some perspective, you deprive yourself of the serum of
optimism and zeal and instead take a pill for high blood pressure. You say: If I
think of anything else, I will have to throw my conscience to the cats.
You wonder: What kind of a linguistic or legal wunderkind could formulate a
peace treaty and good neighborliness between a palace and a shack, between a
guard and a prisoner?
You walk down the alleys ashamed of everything: your ironed shirts, the
aesthetics of poetry, the abstractness of music, and a passport that allows you to
travel the world. You are stabbed by a pain in your consciousness. And you
return to a Gaza that looks down on its refugee camps and its refugees, and
seems apprehensive of the returnees. You do not know which Gaza you are in,
and you say:
I came, but did not arrive.
I came, but did not return!


Revelation is the heart’s proof of what it knows not, and of what is higher.
Higher and farther. I see a bird, you and I are its wings. It takes us to a place
beyond vision, on a journey with no end and no beginning, no intention or
objective. I do not speak to you, nor do you speak to me. We only hear the music
of silence.”