Essays    Reportage    Marginalia    Interviews    Poetry    Fiction    Videos    Everything   
Hasten Your Burials

You desire a final frame / that suits and comforts, / a framing that supersedes / a death denied

Editors’ Note: The following poem by Walid Daou, translated by Mariam Bazeed, is the final work published as part of the notebook I Want Sky, a collection of essays, poems, fiction, and hybrid work honoring Sarah Hegazy’s one irreplaceable life, and the lives of all LGBTQ+ Arabs and people of the SWANA region and its diaspora, and, too often, the risk inherent in their visibility. Edited by Mariam Bazeed and published as a part of a partnership with Mizna, the notebook will also be available as a print issue, released this fall. Read work published in this series here.

Hasten Your Burials,
More Corpses Remain

written by Walid Daou
translated by Mariam Bazeed

for Sarah Hegazy

The snow melted.
A snow that reminds me of her,
of what ties earth to sky,
when the rains come in October,
and snow follows in December.

A smattering of snow, enduring on a far peak,
reminds me of her,
and of June rain.

Those who die by suicide are neither dead,
nor alive.
They dwell between two states
a novel adjective
possibly meaning:
            I am that which lives among you;
            I am that which dies among you;
            I am the living who are dead;
            I am the dead who are living.

Those who die by suicide,
do not die suddenly
though their death itself be sudden.
Those who die by suicide die many times
by your hands.

Those who die by suicide,
die not without warning,
though their warnings be neither heard,
nor believed.

Some take their warnings for blackmail, only
to declare, after death’s finality,
            We knew; we were told.

Thus do those who die by suicide live
among you:
            The living dead.
            The dead, living.

They travel through the morning,
Descending, light
light as a feather
wafting on a breeze.

Gravestone gentler than human
shields their heads
with an animal’s loyalty.

We declare animal ways of being
animalistic, load the terms with ugly.
Though no crows portend bad news,
neither are foxes cunning,
nor chickens stupid.

These adjectives belong to you.

Those who die by suicide,
die by fire,
their bodies consumed lighting the dark.
They do not feel its sting
having been branded and burned again, again.

What is the final frame?
Is it upside down?

But why look for a final frame,
the last word,
the last meeting,
the last outfit,
the last smile?

What of the first
and the second
and the third
and the …

There are frames missing
words forgotten
stolen or secret liaisons
drab clothing
smiles swallowed.

Do you recall?

You desire a final frame
that suits and comforts,
a framing that supersedes
a death denied,
overwritten by invented memory.

The snow melted
and the June rains
washed away the rest.

The snowmelt flows
to faraway valleys
where it merges with other waters
escaping the waterwheel
spring and river.

It flows toward brackish water
to die once more,
in the place of thunder,
to die again
in dead seas.

Snow stitching sky to earth
recalling the slow movement of caravans,
fall of snow flake unrushed
or quickened
carried by the wind
higher, for a moment,
before the permanent fall.

There are many more corpses
so hasten your burials:
it is you who are dead.