Death of a Poet

It is the poet’s coffin
brought again
to the top of the tree,
that shadows the stream.
Blurry shadow –
surely it is a coffin?!
Or a force!
Or a cloud!
Crows are following it,
surely it is a casket!
Or perhaps a cliff
covered with snow.

Tonight who will guard it?
What a beautiful night,
the stars filling the sky.
No fear in this winter night
So who will guard it?
Only for tonight,
from this mountain, he will leave.
We face a big river
the water rises to our waists.
We cross the river.
He disappears in the eternity valley,
never to see his figure again.


~ Jalal Barzanji

Jalal BarzAnji, poet and journalist, originally from Kurdistan, north of Iraq, started writing in 1970. He has published five collections of poetry in Iraq with great difficulty. He came to Canada in 1998, and served as Edmonton’s first PEN Writer-In Exile in 2007-2008.

“Home is a place where you feel no exile; in exile, you are always remembering the past, when you are at home you live in the present. Home is a place of ultimate freedom, a place of calm and serenity. Home can be a house, a street, a city, or a country. Having two separate homes can force your imagination to create a home of your own; that is the home I love.

My writing evolves, bringing back to life the things I see in my dreams, the things I feel in my soul, that I miss. The process of writing a poem for me first begins inside, and then I attempt to bring what I feel inside into words, the process of creating beauty that we all feel around us. That is the difficult part, putting it into words.”

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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