Yaser Murtaja longed to see the world,
Journalist and photographer, landlocked
In the restrictive state of Palestine,
Occupied by a racial overlord,
His world demarcated by a thin line
Outside of which—what mysteries it stocked.
“I long to see,” these were his words, “to feel
The awe of seeing my homeland from above
Through the pane of an airplane’s window, not
As photographs approximate the real
But by my own two eyes”: this was his thought,
Though filled his life’s constriction with great love.
He had a wife and child; friends, colleagues who
Sought to discover journalistic truth
And tell it to the world. His life was rich
In joys such as his poverty could strew
Amidst hopes for the future—bold hopes which
A bullet dashed, that killed him in his youth.
We carry you, young Yaser, through the streets,
Corpse emptied of its hope, delight and promise,
Your martyrdom—if martyrdoms be such—
No solitary one: your tale repeats
In no small quantity, grief overmuch
As represented in your life now famous.
The untold victims! You were not alone,
Targeted in your role as journalist—
Even some children, innocent and pure,
Were taken from the world, their names unknown
Except to those bereaved—in this secure:
Persons oppressed, though threatened, will resist.
We carry you; and the unnamed assassin
Reloads anew his instrument of death,
To choose another target on the morrow.
An everlasting fame to this we fasten,
Coffin-borne body insensate to sorrow,
Our human swell amorphous underneath.
We carry you but only to the grave;
Your spirit overleaps us in its path,
Soaring up to the heavens, which remain
The only destiny we living have,
Albeit coursing through rich worlds in pain,
Consigned to live in your life’s aftermath.
Yaser Murtaja, let me fill with shame
That the assassin’s blood runs in my veins,
That he and I are kin. I rather choose
A greater kinship than with him to claim
Although it bring me death: life is to lose,
So let me, living, bear my share of pains.