Literal translation by Khaled Jbaili

The Obedience of Water


How many nights, skills, specialties, hesitations and sacrifices,

would you need if you wanted to make a device,

whether cheap or expensive?

While all you need to make a tyrant

is to bow.


No, he’s neither a rhinoceros nor a miracle,

he may even look like me or you.

These are not, as you thought, his claws,

rather, they’re regular nails, like mine or yours.

And these are not his hooves,

rather, they’re his shoes, size eight,

or nine, I guess.

Yes, and he doesn’t weigh, as you might imagine, half a ton;

but, he weighs, like us,

seventy, or say ninety kilos.

And this is not his horn,

it’s his smugly upturned nose, even when he has a cold.

Yes, he may catch a cold.

And, like you, he may bleed



He doesn’t descend from cloud banks to his seat,

rather, he climbs on your shoulders and mine.

He dangles his legs over the saddle of time,

and I assure you he only has two, not six.

He loves the mirror, and it loves to love him and loves his love.



He loves the law, so he doesn’t take a life, destroy a house, or slaughter a few thousands, except under the law.

And under his reign,

hope seems an insult to people’s intelligence, so it flickers so as to fade,

and then lights up again without a known reason.



He views his tremors as strength, no matter what happens,

because he wants us to be like water,

our views the views of a cup,

in which he wants to see us forever settled in the bottom,

to bow whenever the pitcher bows in his hand,

to imprison words in our throats.

But when we all had the same intention as the water,

he raised his hands in a last cry for help, astonished at drowning.