Refaat, your death visited me.
It stood across from me in the dim room.


I told your death “I am ready. I am ready.”
Your death stared back, unimpressed.


I sat in the wooden chair I arranged
in my American home. I bowed my head low


as in the first pose I found in the drawings
of Abu Zubaydah. I held my hands


behind the chair’s back, waiting for your death
to bind them tightly so a slow pain


might build in my shoulders.
Your death did not move, but watched me.


I arranged a long tank of water beside us
so that your death might lower me in


and watch me struggle against drowning. I stripped.
I placed a gun in your death’s hand.


Your death did not move. It watched me.
Your death had no interest in my guilt,


my fantasies, my fears, my predictions. Your death
embraced me like a tumult in the heart,


asking questions: What will the poets write
when the power of settlers is only a memory?


What will the poets write when there is no
New York Times to report the news


of our victory over the occupation? Your death
left me, in my American home, to my tasks.


Safa Khatib

Safa Khatib is a poet and translator living in St. Louis.