Darwish therapy: Athens Airport
Yassine sent me this prose poem of Darwish's while I was in Cairo airport, which he published just after the siege in Beirut. He describes the revolving door nature of Athens Airport and airports in general-which change their residents each day, while "we remain in our seats." Time stands still for the Palestinian.
From Robyn Creswell in an article she penned on Dariwsh for Harper's in February:
"The poem describes an entire community—an intellectual, a clerk, a militant, a lover—all trying to carry on their everyday tasks in that international limbo. In this place, “connection” turns out to be only another word for separation or quarantine: the loop of airports never ends, like Borges’s famous library. The cruelty of the Palestinian situation is that these purgatories are in no way extraordinary but rather the backdrop of daily existence."
Athens Airport -Mahmoud Darwish
Athens airport disperses us to other airports. Where can I fight? asks the fighter.
Where can I deliver your child? a pregnant woman shouts back.
Where can I invest my money? asks the officer.
This is none of my business, the intellectual says.
Where did you come from? asks the customs' official.
And we answer: From the sea!
Where are you going?
To the sea, we answer.
What is your address?
A woman of our group says: My village is my bundle on my back.
We have waited in the Athens airport for years.
A young man marries a girl but they have no place for their wedding night.
He asks: Where can I make love to her?
We laugh and say:
This is not the right time for that question.
The analyst says: In order to live, they die by mistake.
The literary man says: Our camp will certainly fall.
What do they want from us?
Athens airport welcomes its visitors without end.
Yet, like the benches in the terminal, we remain, impatiently waiting for the sea.
How many more years longer, O Athens airport?
(Translated by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forché)