Between us twenty lifetimes,
between your lips and my lips when they meet
and the glass of a whole life shatters.
The day I met you I tore up all my maps and my prophecies.
Like an Arab stallion I smelled the rain of you before it wet me,
heard the pulse of your voice before you spoke,
undid your hair with my hands before you had braided it.
There is nothing I can do
nothing you can do
what can the wound do with the knife on the way to it?
Your eyes are like a night of rain in which ships are sinking,
and all I wrote is forgotten.
In mirrors there is no memory.
God how is it that we surrender to love
giving it the keys to our city
carrying candles to it, and incense? Falling down at its feet, asking to be forgiven?
Why do we look for it and endure all that it does to us?
Woman, in whose voice silver and wine mingle,
From the mirrors of your eyes the day begins its journey,
life puts out to sea.
I knew when I said I love you that I was inventing a new alphabet for a city
where no one could read what I was saying,
my poems in an empty theater and,
pouring my wine for those who could not taste it.
When God gave you to me I felt that He had loaded everything my way
and unsaid all His sacred books.
Who are you, woman, entering my life like a dagger,
mild as the eyes of a rabbit,
soft as the skin of a plum,
pure as strings of jasmine,
innocent as children’s tendrils and devouring like words?
Your love threw me down in a land of wonder;
it ambushed me.
Like the scent of a woman stepping into an elevator
it surprised me;
in a coffee bar, sitting over a poem, I forgot the poem,
It surprised me.
Reading the lines in my palm, I forgot my palm
It dropped on me like a blind, deaf wildfowl…
its feathers became tangled with mine,
its cries were twisted with mine,
It surprised me.
As I sat on my suitcase, waiting for the train of days, I forgot the days I traveled with you,
Your image is engraved on the face of my watch,
It is engraved on each of the hands,
It is etched on the weeks,
My time is no longer mine …
it is you.
by Nizar Qabbani