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Like a Small Café, That’s Love by Mahmoud Darwish

Like a Small Café, That’s Love 
Mahmoud Darwish
Translated by Mohammad Shaheen

Like a small café on the street of strangers—
that’s love… its doors open to all.
Like a café that expands and
contracts with the weather:
if it pours with rain its customers increase,
if the weather’s fine, they are few and weary…
I am here, stranger, sitting in the corner.
(What color are your eyes? What is your name?
How shall I call to you as you pass by,
as I sit waiting for you?)
A small café, that’s love.
I order two glasses of wine
and drink to my health and yours.
I am carrying two caps
and an umbrella. It is raining now.
It is raining more than ever,
and you do not come in.
I say to myself at last: Perhaps she who I was waiting for
was waiting for me, or was waiting for some other man,
or was waiting for us, and did not find him/me.
She would say: Here I am waiting for you.
(What color are your eyes? What is your name?
What kind of wine do you prefer? How shall I call to you when
you pass by?)
                 A small café, that’s love…


Thinking about love’s own uncertainties and the unpredictable factors that bring people into its realm or keep them at a distance. Wondering if any arbitrary action in my life has led to the moments I cherish the most.

I think it’s fantastic, to be in anticipation of something. Yearning and uncertainty in one breath. I am waiting because I love. The Other never waits. I think Barthes wrote that.

I used to carry an umbrella in anticipation of rain and then it almost never did. Now I walk empty-handed, and the sky sometimes obliges, what a blessing.

Almond Blossoms and Beyond by Mahmoud DarwishSOURCE

This poem appeared in Almond Blossoms and Beyond by Mahmoud Darwish, published by Interlink Books, 2009. Shared here with profound gratitude.


“The first English translation of recent poetry by the late Mahmoud Darwish, the most important Palestinian contemporary poet. Almond Blossoms and Beyond is one of the last collections of poetry that Mahmoud Darwish left to the world. Composed of brief lyric poems and the magnificent sustained Exile cycle, Almond Blossoms holds an important place in Darwish’s unparalleled oeuvre. It distills his late style, in which, though the specter of death looms and weddings turn to funerals, he threads the pulses and fragilities and beauties of life into the lines of his poems. Their liveliness is his own response to the collection’s final call to bid “Farewell / Farewell, to the poetry of pain.””


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