Or here, in early morning, how early you ask and I say let’s get on with the day, a conversation is always a political thing because it involves two entities and the possibility of death interrupting it is always real, always there, and it could happen here, any time, by the stairs, the fountains, the music, and let’s drink to things unsaid!

This wall, a circle in bronze sunk into the Earth, the earth sinking into itself; when I was drowning it was in a lake: You possessed — there, on this horizon of mine, on my left side — the road which led to my house. The birds were many and taking in the spring. Are you fond of our hills’ particular freshness when the sea becomes a rug, that’s the hour when the Bedus look at her with glee. You’re always sitting across the table, scaring off my apprehensions.

In the heat, the earth’s warming, this absorption of the sun’s heat by the earth, I try to reach you, by the sweltering sea, such whiteness around me and such a distance between your letters and my answers!

Are you a son of mine, I’m sure you’re not, and never will you be, it’s always too soon, or too late, when the doors are closed, o the gentle movements of bodies on the sea’s edge…

Somewhere, you could have been my father’s anger, he who never said a word after he reached forty, and you know, down there, under a white stone, whatever’s left of his bones is asking for retribution, and the sea’s answer is a swell, so very gentle, while the air is waiting for her to signal: Sometimes immobility gives way to action, which actions ought we to desire, which city shall you inhabit, which would be conducive to my heart’s rest? Where are we going from this point?

What are the links between this space and me? Where do questions on the infinity of time and space lead to? Civilizations built on revenge shall disappear. So would the others. Could we then go on thinking?

A location. A site. Breathing needs miles of territory. If you want to reach the lions. (The breeze is in Egypt and the heat in Syria.) The mountains are gone. Next to us storms are waiting. It will rain stones and bullets. Somewhere. Away from us. Oh how white is the sea when I think of you! Elsewhere, eventually, the dead will occupy no space.

You know what heat does? Where? Right here and all around. It melts one’s spirit. Creates surrender. And to whom should one surrender? Would be easy to say to none. It would be a forbidden logic to say: to all. To the enemy? Who’s my enemy? It’s always tragic to have one.

Sharpening one’s mind with the knife of despair. A blank space. An arrow. There, in front of my eyes, the void. Big and cold. We must reverse the seasons for accommodating these corpses. We’re producing not water but blood, thirst being a priority.

Under this blanket of whiteness, on the sacred road of lost powers a conversation is always a confrontation. Words are particles of air disseminated by the wind. So much silence within one’s arteries: we can’t move for this eternal battle. We haven’t given it a name.

How to cite this article:

Etel Adnan "There," Middle East Report 203 (Summer 1997).

For 50 years, MERIP has published critical analysis of Middle Eastern politics, history, and social justice not available in other publications. Our articles have debunked pernicious myths, exposed the human costs of war and conflict, and highlighted the suppression of basic human rights. After many years behind a paywall, our content is now open-access and free to anyone, anywhere in the world. Your donation ensures that MERIP can continue to remain an invaluable resource for everyone.


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