Rashid Husain on first loyalties
Palestinian poet Rashid Husain (b. 1936) was from a village near Haifa and died in poverty in a fire in his New York City apartment in 1977. His writings reflected his concerns and experience of Palestinian life under siege both within Israel and in the diaspora. He was also a translator, translating selections from Hayyim Bialik from Hebrew to Arabic, and Palestinian folks songs from Arabic to Hebrew. Translation below by May Jayyusi and Naomi Shihab Nye, from their "Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature".
From the play "The Interrogation"
Interrogator: In this poem you are clearly saying that my wife loves you.
The Poet: I am speaking of my land, I say I was there
before you, and she will always think of me first.
Be her husband-so what!
I loved her before you did
and have first place in her heart.
Even if you buy her perfume,
purchase her the finest clothes...
it's for me she will wear them.
I smoked on her lap long ago,
startling her with my earliest cigarettes.
I'll even enter your bed
on your wedding night, and come between you...
though you are her bridgroom
she will embrace me, desiring me most.
I will always be between you-
I'm sorry-but I was first.