Iraqi ex-detainee's poem: 'When I see you I see Paradise'

Stop at the ruins and ask the wrecked corner. . . . Are my people aware of what's happening to me?

Ask the river, does it still remember me? . . . And the people, do they still hold their noses high?

Are they sleeping in comfort and in peace? . . . With an unembarrassed smile upon their lips

Tell them I am a hostage to humiliation. . . . Oh, my poetry, or have they become deaf

My partner, my passion for you is killing me. . . . In the heart there is flame from a blazing fire

How to reach those who have become so dear a quest. . . . And the longing inside me, my friend, is burning

The hand of days has torn me apart leaving. . . . A deep wound and a sick body

My hue has paled, for my eyes always. . . . Cry for my loved ones, first tears, and then blood

And my soul cries out for the help of the wandering spirits. . . . And in the sea of my sorrows, my worries clash

By God, after our parting life has no appeal to me . . . because my life without you is nothing

My chest is tight with breath that seems. . . . As if it were lava between my ribs

I begged patience to come and console me . . . it said "no," and worry said "yes" to me

Patience, if it comes to me, comes single, but when . . . the worries come to my heart, they arrive as nations

My partner, my mind is lost, is anxious. . . . In it thoughts and suspicions are teeming

I ask the stars about my family and my country . . . and about my little ones I ask the moon: how are they faring

And I said to the wind: In my village there is a man . . . who is of good nature and beautiful face and words

And it said to me: That is Abu Ghassan! I know him . . . in him there is pride, honesty and generosity

Amongst Albu Hamdan he is a man of science and . . . good manners. Most sincere of friends

And in me is grief and pain that hurt me in a way . . . that no pen and paper can describe

Injustice, subjugation and deprivation are crushing me . . . and the wounds of my heart are oozing pus and pain.

When I see you, I see Paradise approaching . . . towards me, and all the wounds of my soul will heal

I ask God to quench my thirst for you by seeing you . . . before I die, that would be the highest bliss.

_ Translation by Sahar Issa, McClatchy special correspondent

Poem written June 7, 2007, in Bucca detention center


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