In The Blue Hour

the negrita cries, I hide
not to deceive the darkness
or myself…
La negrita is not far
from where I stand
her eyebrows
her one hand…
I too am visible now, behind the tree
behind the night, behind the cry
and all I want to know
is her name
and ask her:
have you ever heard
your heart undressing,
seen a stray dog at midnight
and realize he understands this hour
better than you will understand any hour?
have you seen yourself in every woman
with your eyes or in women with eyes
more difficult than yours?
have you ever really heard your voice,
echoing in your nipples?
She offers me tea,
we end up drinking coffee,
trying to reach the bottom of the cup
unafraid…
now, my teeth are stained, my English
failing me, my Arabic fading
my Spanish starting to make sense…
we are in a finca now -
perhaps we are safe,
perhaps we desire nothing else,
but I can't stop bowing in prayer
five times a day,
my country comes to me, tells me:
Compatriota — I will always find you
no matter what language you are speaking.

by Nathalie Handal

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