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Do Not Put Their Names in the Boxes

"Sea Change" by Heather Miller
Translated from the Arabic by Rusted Radishes

It was in the midst of an August day, but suddenly the city felt cold. They said it was war, and it was not war. They were idols of stone and tyranny, and the sea was calm when they rained glass down onto the city.

 *

Glass under the feet of pedestrians. On the asphalt, and inside shoes. Glass under teeth. Glass that tastes like glass. Glass in children's toys. In their bedrooms. Glass under the television. Glass in front of building entrances – the buildings without doors. Glass on the balcony. Glass in trees. Glass inside apples. Glass in the heart. (In that spot that remains of the heart.) Glass under the sheets. Glass in the tap where it flows without water. Glass in cups and secrets. Glass between the blades of the air conditioner. Glass under the gas pedal. Glass on the sidewalks. Glass inside the wound. Glass on serving trays. Glass between the lines. Glass in dust balls. Glass under the cushions. Glass in music. Glass in music when it hits the bones. Glass inside bags. Bags of rice and sugar. Bags of body parts looking for their bodies. Glass inside the numerous coffins. Glass where ships anchor. Glass on turbans. Glass in glass factories. Glass in vans, on passenger seats. Glass in barrels. Barrels that kill. Glass in glass houses. Glass in hospital beds. Inside nurses' hands. Glass in cotton and gauze. Glass in IVs. Glass inside tubes. Glass in the intestine, where all kinds of pills end up. Glass in the head. Between each hair. Inside brains. Where soap does not enter. Glass in soap. Glass in boxes of nail polish. Glass between fingers. Glass in classrooms. Glass in books, on their covers. Glass in metal boxes where people hide what they have. Glass in vaccines. Glass in epidemics. Glass in flour. Glass in eyes. Glass in the light the eye captures. The light is blue, and there is snow that is not like snow, and the dancers have tears in their eyes. No one caught the tears.

 *

It was in the midst of an August day, but suddenly the city felt cold. They said it was war, and it was not war. They were idols of stone and tyranny, with their pictures hanging behind them. Pictures of idols made of stone and tyranny. Some of them promised spring, and some promised Jerusalem. And the sea was a witness when they rained glass onto the city.

Do not belie the sea. Do not write their names on paper. Do not put their names in the boxes.

 

This piece was originally published in MEGAPHONE

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Khaled Saghieh

Khaled Saghieh is a journalist based in Beirut.

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Khaled Saghieh is a journalist based in Beirut.

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