There it is: the camp that is yet to be born

by Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, Oxford University and Refugee Hosts

There it is: the camp that is yet to be born.

The camp’s existence will always be on a par with time in the superfluity of tenses.

I do not know how the archive can become the soil’s past.

The camp is also the pre-judgement of time.

Find me a place whose meaning is that of its absence.

Find me a place where nothing is not exactly nothing but its equivalent.

Religion in the camp is not one. It is the limbs, prosthetic or otherwise, that worship, not the body.

Can a ruin be a camp? When we dig, sooner or later, we dig the camp into the past that sees.

The thing, the thing that has no name but forever exists, is what a ruin is.

His cane, that which sees for him, is God’s face despite itself.

Even to go for an outing, an outing from a camp to a camp, so short to the extent of not happening, for my mother, necessitates worrying about being left without a camp.

Home: the distant in the distant, the near in the near, wherever my mother departs, the soil and the metaphor sipping from the same dry well, what my grandmother calls the law, the cut in the hand and the tongue, the archive or the departing dream, the slaughtered neighbour, the hidden knife, my mother ripping off her dress and headscarf in sadness, the tree in the cemetery, the cemetery as a tree…


Featured Image: A pigeon fancier in Baddawi camp, N. Lebanon, awaits the return of his flock. (c) E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, July 2019

Read, and listen, to more poetry by Yousif by visiting our Creative Archive, or by visiting his contributor’s page here.


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