“Write down: I am Arab my I.D. number, 50,000 my children, eight and the ninth due next summer --Does that anger you? Write down: Arab. I work with my struggling friends in a quarry and my children are eight. I chip a loaf of bread for them, clothes and notebooks from the rocks. I will not beg for a handout at your door nor humble myself on your threshold --Does that anger you? Write down: Arab, a name with no friendly shortcut. A patient man, in a country brimming with anger. My roots have gripped this soil since time began, before the opening of ages before the cypress and the olive, before the grasses flourishes. My father came from a line of plowmen, and my grandfather was a peasant who taught me about the sun's glory before teaching me to read. My home is a watchman's shack made of reeds and sticks --Does my condition anger you? There is no gentle name, write down: Arab. The colour of my hair, jet black-- eyes, brown-- trademarks, a headband over a keffiyeh and a hand whose touch grates rough as rock. My address is an unarmed village with nameless streets. All its men are in the field and quarry --Does that anger you? Write down: Arab. You have stolen my ancestors vineyards and the land I once ploughed with my children, leaving my grandchildren nothing but rocks. Will your government take those too, as the rumour goes? Write down, then at the top of Page One: I do not hate and do not steal but starve me, and I will eat my assailant's flesh. Beware of my hunger and of my anger.”—
Identity Card, Mahmoud Darwish (1964)
Written when the poet was 22 years old.
(John Asfour translation)