The Song of the Eternal Child by Majid Alhaydar

Majid al Haydar
Majid Al-Haydar


Death is my elder brother
Who left home the hour I was born
To never, never come back.
He left, they say,
A message for me to read
When I grow up
But I never, never grew up.
Sometimes I see him in my dreams
And run to his lap
Scratch my face with his roughened cheek
And thorny beard
To ask him: Why have you been so late?
Again and again I ask my parents
For a photograph of him
But they turn their faces away
To mutter: No, not a single picture in the house!
Again and again I ask them
for his shape, his real age, and time of return
But all, all in vain!
Sometimes I get mad
I raise my voice: Isn’t he your son?
Don’t you want him to get back?
Then my dad’s face grows pale
And my mom cries and presses me to her chest:
Oh, shut up, shut up you little child!

Maybe they fear his return,
Maybe they regret leaving him
To cross the stony corridor to the old wooden door
Perhaps they believe in myths,
But I will go on, playing and singing
In the shadowy doorway
Close to the black mantle of mom,
And when the time comes
I will surely recognize
His knocking on the old door
And run to him,
Scratch my face with his roughened cheek
And thorny beard,
And let him raise me
High in the marvelous air
Just as in the dream!