The Camp is Time

by Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, University of Oxford


Who writes the camp and what is it that ought to be written in a time where the plurality of lives has traversed the place itself to become its own time.


How will the camp stare at itself in the coming time, look itself in the eye; the eye of time, the coming that is continually pending, but with a face — human or otherwise — that is defaced? The camp is a time more than it is a place. Upon and above its curves, time remembers its lapses to the extent that it is its time — the one whose time is one — that preys on a body that is yet to be born.


In crucifying time neither it nor we can recognise the crucified.


God, incinerate the camp save the dialect. God, incinerate the camp, save the dialect.


The incinerator of time is the camp.


What is it that makes a sight worth a sighting when the seer — the quasi-seer — can only use his only eyes for an enormity that no eyes can actually see? Is it the camp or is it its time that should be (re)turned to its body to (re)claim its body as a dead thing with multiple previous lives and none.


I write for it knowing that this is the last time that I write for it, herein the time is last and the last, it may belong to a no-beginning-no-end, but what it definitely has is its camp. The camp is time and time is the camp.


The possessive is what possesses the guilt that transcends all guilt and yet co-exists with itself until it becomes an event in its own guilt. But is it, is it my camp?


What am I saying right now, in this specific instant and under the false impression that the camp is mine? I say that it is the autobiography of the camp that is autobiographising the camp, suspended in time it is, while we deliberate the impossibility of narration in that context. In order to think of narration (not necessarily its narration), we follow it discreetly in the shape of ash.


In time, the mask takes off its mask.


The foot that treads is also time.


In time we impregnate time with its time.


Time gives birth to nothing. The nothing that is raging nearby is our only time.


Time, tell us where your private parts are?


Time is the acrogenous of the face. Whenever a face ages, it ages beyond time.


In the camp, time is hung like threads of dried okra.


Listen to Yousif read his poem here:

Featured Image: The neighboring Syrian conflict led to the influx of many Syrian refugees into Lebanon, and further into established Palestinian camps. Here, a group of Palestinian and Syrian refugees collaborate on a building project inside the camp. (c) Samar Maqusi, 2016


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