In this country the dead travel
as statues and flames
They wear eyeglasses
and stretch out their scorched arms for flight.
We say they became invisible
Left to offer the living the years that remained of their lives.
Thus only years litter the desert: a century, more.
Lives for the taking, as jackals gorged on lives tremble to say:
“Death is not fatal just as night is the sun’s shadow.”
From The Rising of the Ashes by Tahar Ben Jelloun. Copyright © 2010 by Tahar Ben Jelloun and Cullen Goldblatt.
Tahar Ben Jelloun is a Moroccan writer. The entirety of his work is written in French, although his first language is Arabic. He became known for his 1985 novel L’Enfant de Sable. Today he lives in Paris and continues to write.