Tuesday Poem

Thanks Gilles Deleuze

They were quoting you
Murmuring your name like a prophet coming from afar
From whose mouth a unique music issues

My own French was not good enough even to purchase bread decently
But the ring of your name
In the sidewise discussions had a special magic
Which for long put my extreme ignorance to shame

Migration is a sacred right, you said once
Nobody said that before you, and no one dared say it after
In this country which we married for love
I, Mohamed, Abdelkader, and Fatima
And other Arabs whose dusty names this poem is too narrow to contain.
Until now I haven’t met anyone who could explain the mysteries of your obscure expression
Laws say the opposite from one government to the other
And the caretaker is French of Portuguese origin
Yet he looks down on philosophers

I was in the subway stealing glances at a newspaper someone was reading
When I saw your name printed in bold, and the headline your death
It seems you threw yourself from the window
But why all those who love you to blindness
Love life more than anything else
I felt ashamed of my ignorance once again
And hated myself in plain Arabic
Despite the grumblings of the coloured owner of the newspaper

Migration is a sacred right
An expression which is enough it was once said
For me every morning to pursue my own sacred right

by Abdel-ilah Salhi
translation: Norddine Zouitni
publisher: PIW, © 2004

Gilles Deleuze