True, I am not from where I was born, nor am I the vessel through which I am. Long before dark befell my eyes, I had seen darkness through them.
Is it true what they say... that man loses his ability to learn with age. Is it his ability or his willingness which becomes lost? Is it a loss or a gain, an exile or occupation of space... How does one forget to learn? How does one learn to learn to forget? My mind bears hundreds of thousands of untold stories of amnesia and, I am not an old man, in fact, I am still young, so that I may not even be called a man. How does one fixate their memory on time so that it erases itself? It is only a question... yet I am unable to answer. I told the birds nothing as I cried for them. The swelling in my face reddened my eyes with its yearning, then expelled the sea of a tear to the soil, far from the birds perched along the canopy. Which bird among which canopy never concerned this tear, so this tear never concerned them. This is was my promise to the birds I cried for.
So long as you sing, I shall bear witness to your song. I will be here to listen and water the soil. For this tear shall not concern you, you shall be spared from its flood. I cry for you because I cannot sing for you. I can measure your song in pitch, timbre and cadence, but I cannot sing it on my own, for this song is your language, and your language is the land of your love. So I water the land I cannot sing for. The flood of tears was once a song too. Long before I had a dream, I dreamt, and this I will dream again.
There, I was a bird before there was bird, swimming in the weightlessness of tears poured into clouds from an abyss in the ground. Because nothing before bird preceded the sun, I turned my belly toward it and looked up into the abyss below me. Then, it began to rain. The clouds neither accepted nor rejected the tears, but carried them how I carry myself. The water returned to the abyss. I watched it flow into the darkness in fragments and, perhaps with awareness of my gaze, the tears began to clot and coagulate. It escaped my attention that the clouds had been crying while I called their tears “the storm” during the calm before it and, how could I have not noticed? So it began, the storm, with a single gust from the thickening water clotting in the center of a tide-pool swirling in the eye of the abyss and it broke me, broke through me, before I could catch myself falling; falling awake, as though I were sleeping in a dream. Down below, where the water thickened into blood, that grew across the abyss and became the land, I felt myself falling; above me, where the cloud cried tears of the abyss, then returned to them so that they would become the blood, so that they could become the land; I saw the light glisten from a single tear and thought, “I am light”, then all became still, and I was light. In the light, I glistened from a single tear of the cloud in the eye of the falling angel and thought, “I am light”, as its wings became scorched by the sun, the angel spoke thus, “I am light”, and so it became that I became light; then descended upon the abyss in a ray, there, where I became the blood that became the land and then, I awoke.
Instead of bird I became human, but instead of human, I became Arab. So I am Arab, and in the blood, in the body separated from the land, and the language of the land, I am the body, the blood, and the language of the land. I am the Arab, the love of the land.
It is love I cry for. My tear is my song and I am my tear, because my voice flew from my chest how the robin leaps from barren tree tops, leaving the nest empty in the dead of winter; and I sing for that robin, so that the earth may here my song and give to it the flight I had refused. I sing for that robin because the earth came to me first saying, “Fly!”, and I refused. I refused to fly when the earth beckoned me so because I was afraid, and now I regret that my fear has been realized... and I have fallen....
... but this is not like death, who has walked beside me along this path of dreams. This fall is return, for the bird had sung this song before it knew to fly, while it still stood hunched over on two legs, its poem was alive.
The birds sung to me in a language I had taught them. I cried only to water the tree they lived in, so that they would have a branch to sing from, because I know how it feels to sing for no land. I know how to fly. I taught the bird the patterns of flight which used to mesmerize me, the way the dream left me longing for a memory. I used to see.
I wish I knew where my father was buried, so I could pull him from his grave and breath life back into him, the way life was breathed back into me when my soul had been given to God. I had given my soul to God, and my body back unto the Earth, but my soul was returned to my body, and both were returned to the earth. I am left longing for death. I am living life as if it were a dream. I am living within the longing of a memory. I stood tallest on my knees, in the form of surrender to a God whose name He had not yet revealed in a language He had not yet taught me. I saw myself growing in the shadow, the darkness which Earth is deprived. It wasn’t until I had removed my eyes, that I could travel through the sound of light. I wish I had not longed for memories of surrender, I wish I hadn’t tried so hard to die... and succeeded. I never learned how to pray. I knew my father for the length of a prayer and I wished to be exactly like him. I wish I knew better than to imitate the dead. I wish I could see... I wish there was a man alive whose example I could follow and I wish I could see him smile when I call him my baba. I wish I could wipe the dirt from his teeth and wrap his neck in gold. I wish I could teach him howto pray, so he could see how tall he really is. If only I could bring my father back to life, how I was brought back... I was brought back.
I was brought back... I know what is outside of my control. I have been humbled by death. I buried myself in my father and my mother, and I wish I knew my brother. There is an ocean between me and his grave. I wish I could raise my father’s corpse and breathe life back into it, and take away the wounds I had given him. I wish I could take it back, baba... I didn’t know. We can walk from here to the ocean. I will show the horizon beyond which lay the land from whence we came. You can rest here and dream while I build the boat. I wish I could show him that this ocean was meant for us live in, instead I tell him that it was meant for us to cross. Come with me, baba... I want you to see what God has given us.
“We are here, baba.” Surrounded by nothing but water stretching all around us to the brink, the horizon, like a seam in our dream bubble being burst by the setting sun... I awake him, for he slept long through our journey to the center. He slept like a man who had been awaken from the deep slumber he spent his lifetime earning, so apprehensive is he to be awoken yet again, alas, he is suspended in the tender moment of awakening, that moment before the past creeps in to collide with the present, he is without past or present, but becoming, the arising moment from beyond, which knows to erase without leaving a mark to return to. The boat ceases to catch the wind or current, surrendered to its place in the center with us, like us... and I call out to awake him from his slumber between dreams,
“Behold! Baba... we have arrived.”
But, he does not respond. Still, I beckon him as his face becomes grey like mine. The sun set all around us in the ship, illuminating some hellfire on the water, and in that moment I came to know stillness in the form of my father, drifting away even in my dreams, as the darkness rode in to extinguish the light.
God had not granted me the patience required to remember the dead. Instead, I know His mercy through the virtue of patience, and through patience I know His wrath.