ID Card

Mahmoud Darwish

Write it down! I’m an Arab
 My card number is 50000
 My children number eight
 And after this summer, a ninth on his way.
 Does this make you rage?
 I am an Arab.
 With my quarry comrades I labor hard
 My children number eight
 I tug their bread, their clothes
 And their notebooks
 From within the rock
 I don’t beg at your door
 I don’t cower on your threshold
 So does this make you rage?
 Write it down!
 I am an Arab.
 I am a name with no honorific.
 Patient in a land
 Where everything lives in bursting rage
 My roots were planted before time was born
 Before history began
 Before the cypress and the olive trees
 Before grass sprouted
 My father is from the plough clan
 Not from the noble class
 My grandfather was a peasant farmer
 Had no pedigree
 Taught me the pride of the sun
 Before teaching me to read
 A shack to guard groves is my home,
 Made of branches and reeds
 Are you pleased with my status?
 I am a name with no honorific.
 Write it down!
 I am an Arab.
 Hair color: charcoal
 Eye color: brown
 Attributes:
 A cord around the quffiyeh on my head
 My hand as hard as rock
 That scratches if you touch it
 My address:
 I am from a forgotten abandoned village
 Its streets nameless
 All its men in the fields and quarries
 Does this make you rage?
 Write it down!
 I am an Arab.
 You have stolen my ancestors’ groves
 And the land we cultivated
 I and all my children
 Leaving nothing for us and all my grandchildren
 Except these rocks
 Will your government take them
 Like people say?
 Therefore,
 Write down on the top of the first page:
 I do not hate people
 And I do not steal from anyone
 But if I starve
 I will eat my oppressor’s flesh
 Beware, beware of my starving
 And my rage.


1964. Translated from Arabic by Salman Masalha and Vivian Eden