Six fables by Syrian poet Osama Alomar.
A booby-trapped state exploded on one of the main streets of the world. Surrounding nations were wounded in various ways. Severed limbs scattered across the world, contaminating seas and forests and mountains with bloody fragments.
States that had been only slightly wounded were treated at the site of the explosion. Those more seriously wounded were taken to hospitals in the capital. Gradually the number of exploding countries increased. The world became a miniature image of hell. Severed limbs flew into outer space, contaminating some of the planets of our solar system. The capital itself could no longer remain immune from the disaster. It stopped receiving victims from other nations and shut itself in to suture its own wounds. The explosions continued uninterrupted despite the fact that all the nations entering and leaving the world submitted themselves to a thorough search.
Separation and Union
When the continents separated from each other millions of years ago, they felt exceedingly sad. Nevertheless, hope continued to fill their hearts because they knew that, no matter how long it would take, they would be united again on the other side of Earth. Even so, they asked themselves in anguish, “Is there still hope that after so much time humans will have overcome their hatred and malevolence toward one another and unite like us?”
After years of searching, I was finally led to the place where I could see Freedom. She was on exhibit in a museum surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by thousands of heavily armed men. She seemed sad and broken. When I asked one of the guards the reason she was there, he pulled me away by my arm and whispered in my ear: “She is invaluable!”
The Pride of Garbage
When the owner of the house picked up the bag of garbage and headed out to the street to throw it in the dumpster, the bag was overwhelmed with the fear that she would be put side by side with her companions. But when the man placed her on top of all the others, she became intoxicated with her greatness and looked down at them with disdain.
A lake decided to invade the sea but her waters evaporated along the way.
When Poetry Fled
On a beautiful spring morning the poet woke from his sleep after a night charged with the lightning of poetry. He gathered together his papers, pens, cigarettes, a big glass of red wine, and everything else he needed to write, and sat at the table to recount the thoughts, visions, and dreams that had come to him in his sleep. He began to write calmly, looking up every now and then at the neighbors’ beautiful garden that extended beyond the right side of his house. His thoughts and feelings intensified with creative fervor until suddenly, with an unconscious gesture, he knocked over the glass of wine with the edge of his hand. In the space of less than a second, before the wine could spill onto the papers where he had written his verses, the words leaped up and, turning into nightingales and birds and deer and thoroughbred horses and countless shades of songs and enchanting hymns, fled in the direction of the forest.
The poet watched the scene with amazement and soon began to weep bitter tears. He picked up the wine glass and threw it at the wall where it broke into tiny pieces. He then rushed toward the forest, wanting to seek forgiveness from the words of his treasured poems.
When he entered the forest, he could immediately distinguish their sounds: the whinnies of the thoroughbred horses, the songs of the nightingales and goldfinches. He glimpsed dozens of colors and imaginings and shadows. But he wasn’t able to look at them directly. He called to them as loudly as he could, “Come back to me, dear friends! … I beg you! … Come back! … I’m sorry! … I’m sorry!”
It was all in vain.
He returned sadly back to his house with broken wings. As for the forest, it increased in magic and wonder. Poets and lovers and those tired out from life were frequent visitors; its trees were no longer cut down.
Osama Alomar is a Syrian writer and poet, currently living in Chicago. With the exception of “Invaluable,” which is published here for the first time, all of the above previously appeared in Fullblood Arabian, published by New Directions Press. Copyright © 2014 by Osama Alomar. Translation copyright © 2014 by C.J. Collins and Osama Alomar.