In Memory of Basil

In Memory of Basil the poster had read. There had been a poem to the left. Do not stand at my grave and weep, it began: the ubiquitous bereavement poem, selflessly secular here, and it was in English. The photograph of the martyr Basil Fleihan was from the waist up and to the right of the poem. The whole thing was screenprinted on a large canvas taut within a metal frame. It was mounted on the barrier by St. George’s Marina opposite the Beirut Four Seasons, 100 meters from where Basil Fleihan was killed with Hariri and twenty others in the bomb blast that left the grand and ancient St George’s Hotel cordoned-off, hunched and drooping and hollowed out, an exhibit frozen and waiting, waiting for the UN Special Tribunal to rule, and in a peculiarly bitter further coincidence, waiting for Hariri’s reconstruction company Solider’s claim on their equally ancient marina in the Downtown rehabilitation to work itself out and let them trade again. Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there; I do not sleep. Basil Fleihan was a Christian, and his face was Western. The next stanzas of the poem are lost, because the Hezbollah who that night came so far east, and built the barricades, burned the tires and slashed the poster, had followed Fleihan’s hairline and torso with his knife, leaving just one arm, then dragged the blade left and hacked through the middle of the poem and grabbed a fistful of the poster and ripped it out. And this left only those two opening lines and, beneath, a dangling fold of torn white canvas like revealed flesh, the blankness behind the dead man, and half the last two lines, Do not stand … I am not there …

He isn’t—beyond through the hole is the half-empty marina, the pleasure boats bobbing gently.


Carl Shuker



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