When with the skin you do acknowledge drought,
The dry in the voice, the lightness of feet, the fine
Flake of the heat at every level line;

When with the hand you learn to touch without
Surprise the spine for the leaf, the prickled petal,
The stone scorched in the shine, and the wood brittle;

Then where the pipe drips and the fronds sprout
And the foot-square forest of clover blooms in sand,
You will lean and watch, but never touch with your hand.


September 1934

  • Adonis, "Desert" from Selected Poems, translated by Khaled Mattawa. Copyright © 2010 by Adonis. Reprinted by permission of Yale University Press.

  • Source: Selected Poems (Yale University Press, 2017-10-31)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"What really makes a poem dynamic is not the use of grand gestures. Rather, it is the tones and expressions of the voice that help listeners connect and understand the meaning of a poem."
Angelica Sterling
2017 USVI POL Champ