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The Foreigner

by Amir Or

He wakes up on scorching sand between wall and square,
in front of him the convoy halts, as in front of a forgotten memory:

is he only a mark on the road, is he a signpost or a diary,
was he left here, on a three-way junction,

for a moment or for ever?  The body tht stiffened, didn't die;
behold, he's not alone.  Figures without shadow and reflection

carry him to be burnt
on a pile of fire-wood, dung and libation oil, under a heap of flowers.

Is this a man or a fish?
will he live or, with the pallbearers, pass through

a gate revolving over a spinning abyss,
over the unseen axis between chasm and fountain? -

HIs hands, feet and neck are fixed in their posture,
in this one step, in which he walked beyond the gaze,

and vanished inside his shadow.  His gills froze in the last breath,
his yellow shadow, remained behind him,

cast like a monk's cloak depleted of content,
a foothold for any passerby on pits along the path

which runs through huts and peddlers' stalls' the shadow, the figure, the attire
are fixed in a reflection, like an icon burnt by fire,

which he left here in a lover's eyes, rising from a mirror-world on a wall of the house,
and in the capering of puddle-creatures        between rain and light.

Now, in a figure without a body, he awakens between the hands
of the eternal gravediggers, carried like loot.  The funeral paces

in slow silence    like a dense liquid, congealing;
the wailing women are not seen, but their voices rise in lament: Oh! Oh! Oh!

The congregation is submerged        not entirely cut from of the dark,
dragging behind the pallbearers like a long-shadow-wake or foam

trailing a crab's movement on a shore.  He wakes up, places his legs
on the ground he dind't fathom, that again he didn't remember, he attempts a movement

like a calf standing of four for the first time, to be licked by his mother's tongue.
The pallbearers are deterred from him, even though no stir is seen

to a hasty eye, but crawls inside his limbs like the growth of a branch.
He is deserted on the sand, on a square in front of a wall,

and as an era passes he finally stands; his shadow grows on the wall,
opens onto the square, he pulls from above toward him the limbs of absence,

sends his hands to all the behind.  Now as he recalls,
he hesitates to touch what brought him here, the magnitude that fell from him

like one thought.  Slowly he loosens himself
from the spasm of death; slowly he looks toward reflection and shadow

that he left behind: a wife and two daughters, a boy of five,
and an old mother that's still standing, like an echo that returned to a voice

on the river bank where the ashes were scattered
where Narcissus had drowned.


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