The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 12 no. 2


Mahmoud Darwish

He’s Calm, and I Am, Too

Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah


He’s calm, and I am too
He’s drinking tea with lemon,
and I’m drinking coffee,
this is the difference between us.
He’s wearing, as I am, a baggy striped shirt
and I’m reading, as he is, the evening newspaper.
He doesn’t see me when I steal a glance,
I don’t see him when he steals a glance,
he’s calm, and I am too.
He asks the waiter something,
I ask the waiter something...
A black cat passes between us,
I pet its night’s fur
and he pets its night’s fur...
I don’t say to him: The sky was clear today
and more blue.
He doesn’t say to me: The sky was clear today.
He’s the seen and the seer
I’m the seen and the seer.
I move my left leg
he moves his right leg.
I hum a song’s melody,
he hums a song with a similar melody.
I think: Is he the mirror I see myself in?

Then I look toward his eyes,
but I don’t see him...
I leave the café in a hurry.
I think: Maybe he’s a killer, or maybe
he’s a passerby who thinks I’m a killer

He’s frightened, and I am, too!