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Writers in exile
2 min read

Icarus' dream

Wesam Almadani is a Palestinian writer, and human rights activist, who came to Norway as an ICORN writer. Almadani published two books – the novel The Body’s Schizophrenia (2020) and the poetry collection Yaa (2015). Wesam's literary works have been translated into several languages.

Icarus was a tragical hero in Greek mythology, thinking he could fly against better judgement. In this poem by the Palestinian poet Wesam Almadani Icarus appears in our time, and the voice of the tragic hero yearning to fly melts into the voice of war and exile. The poem is translated to English by the poet.

Credits Text: Wesam Almadani  Translation: Wesam Almadani Photo: Marcus Støren February 28 2024

I thought I could fly
The wings fooled me
A first leap and everything rose
Towards a rocket-roaring sky
While I fell down
Into the culpable reality
imagination has so long shielded me from

My confused brain asks
if I am okay
What does it mean to be okay?
Language entangles itself for me
It exists in a parallel reality
Resembling ours
Where it is imprisoned
Discriminated against
If I cry with words
Instead of tears
What then shall language cry with?

What does it mean to be okay?
What is okay with all of this?
To live means to get stuck,
To be involved in the massacre
And so I got stuck
What am I trying to defend?

You divide the victims into teams
As in a football game

It's not the number of bodies
That defines the murderer
All testimonies are false
The earth drowned in strangers' blood,
Drowned in the blood of its own children
I don't want to be more involved
Has anyone ever asked
What does the ball think?

To carry a camera doesn't make you free
To write and speak for someone doesn't make you free
To cradle a child's corpse in your arms
Doesn't make you free
So how do I become free?
My daughter asks
And all my answers hide
In their silence

I take a step back
To God's territory
Silent like him
I shall neither curse nor apologize
For his silence
I am so tired
Waiting devours more and more of my spirit
My torn wings follow me
excessively loyal
They think I'll pick them up again
I don't think I'll do anything at all

I say nothing
The others repeat:
He who is silent about what is right
Is a mute devil
I laugh
Is there anything more devilish in this world
Than humans
Aren't we humans?
My daughter besieges me with questions

To become free,
I must first
Free my language
I must be silent,
stuff all bodies into my mouth
Feed them, protect them
Until they rise again

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