You can identify the one who broke apart, the
one whose spine they managed to straighten,
whose neck they stuck back on his shoulders.
From where you stand, drinking coffeee
and watching the passersby, you imagine
the line of the vein they threaded from
his wrist to his heart, you catch the glint
of imported surgical pins in his knees.
You see how carefully he takes his
steps, walking slowly, usually in a straight
path. He’ll never turn for you to see
his eyes. This one is sealed tight.
It will be easier with one who scattered. The
one who scattered often turns around, as though
looking for a part he’s still missing. When he turns
around, he sometimes looks sweet, because they’ve
patched him together with gum, or else somewhat
bitter, from all the glue stuck between his limbs.
I don’t think you can make out, from the
window, the ones who are torn to pieces.
There’s really nothing to distinguish them!
Or else, each one looks just like himself—like
canceled stamps unfixed from their envelopes
that ended up in some philatelist’s album.
- Iman Mersal, tr. Robyn Creswell