Dareen Tatour

In prison, I met people
too numerous to count
Killer and criminal,
thief and liar,
the honest and those who disbelieve,
the lost and confused,
the wretched and the hungry.

Then, the sick of my homeland,
born out of pain,
refused to go along with injustice
until they became children whose innocence was violated.
The world’s compulsion left them stunned.
They grew older.

No, their sadness grew,
strengthening with repression,
like roses in salted soil.
They embraced love without fear,
and were condemned for declaring,
“We love the land endlessly,”
oblivious to their deeds…
So their love freed them.
See, prison is for lovers.

I interrogated my soul
during moments of doubt and distraction:
“What of your crime?”
Its meaning escapes me now.

I said the thing and
revealed my thoughts;
I wrote about the current injustice,
wishes in ink,
a poem I wrote…

The charge has worn my body,
from my toes to the top of my head,
for I am a poet in prison,
a poet in the land of art.
I am accused of words,
my pen the instrument.
Ink— blood of the heart— bears witness
and reads the charges.

Listen, my destiny, my life,
to what the judge said:
A poem stands accused,
my poem morphs into a crime.
In the land of freedom,
the artist’s fate is prison.

Written on:
November 2, 2015
Jelemeh Prison
The day I received the indictment

Translated by Tariq al Haydar