Salah Garmadi


Counsel for My Family After My Death

Translated from the French by Peter Constantine


Should I one day die among you


but will I ever die


do not recite over my corpse

verses from the Koran

but leave that to those whose business it is

do not promise me two acres of Paradise


for I was happy on one acre of land


do not partake of the traditional couscous on the

third day of my death

it was in fact my favorite dish

do not scatter bits of fig on my grave


for little birds of the sky to peck at

human beings are more in need of them

don’t stop cats urinating on my grave

it was their habit to piss on my doorstep every


and it never made the earth shake

do not come to visit me twice a year at the cemetery

I have absolutely nothing with which to welcome you

do not swear by the pace of my soul that you are

telling the truth even when lying

your truths and your lies are of no interest to me

and the peace of my soul is none of your business

do not pronounce on the day of my funeral the ritual


“in death he preceded us but one day we shall meet again”

this type of race is not my favorite sport

should I one day die among you

but will I ever die


put me on the highest point of your land

and envy me for my untouchability


English language translation coyright ©2006 by Green Integer and Peter Constantine


Salah Garmadi was born in Tunis, Tunisia in 1933, and died in a car crash in 1982. He was a novelist and poet who write both in Arabic and French. This poem was taken from his Nos ancêtres les Bédouins from 1975.