This poem, along with many others from "Land of Flowers and Guns," affected me deeply as a young man. The subject matter was close to me, as well as the author of the works. This is yet another reminder that John remains with us.
At the beginning it was Father,
For Father was a farmer, and I grew up on a farm
Under the shade of the magnolia tree,
Near the ever-running spring,
And I also played with the birds and animals on the farm.
Then it was the Church,
For the Church was not far from my house,
And my mother made me visit it practically every Sunday.
Later it was my Country,
For my Country has four seasons, and trees and blue skies.
Much later it was She,
She who touched my life and body with her fingers,
Whose eyes came to look upon me,
And whose hair left a scent in my nostrils.
By now I have discovered that Father is a man,
The Church has changed,
My Country is destroyed,
And She has cut her hair.
by John Mikhail Asfour
PS The image chosen is of a young woman living in the Bekaa Valley, a tribute to John's childhood in Lebanon. His hometown, also that of my Father, is less than one hour's drive from where she lives now. Her hair reminds me of the woman in the piece above. My hope is that she has yet to cut hers.