“But, why don’t you speak Hebrew?”
“I don’t know what to tell you.”
I was born under exploding skies
And soil thick with children’s blood,
The sound of bullets lulled me to sleep
As old men sang ice-cream truck tunes
In the streets
To sell their bread
“KAEEEEEEEKK Come get some Kaek!” (Sesame buns)
I am from a place where
Students are greeted by snipers
On their way to school
Where they share bread,
And express their dreams,
And make jokes about
Whose father was abducted last week
By Israeli soldiers
My people laugh,
With the hope that the sound of laughter
Will surmount their sorrow;
Misplaced, horrifying laughter.
I am of the land of aching olive trees
Which lean over, exposing their broken flesh
When farmers leave their homes for an hour
And never return.
Outside, the tourists roam,
Singing hymns and carrying crosses,
Paying cold cash to partake in the “pilgrimage experience”
Of the “Holy land”
Created by an apartheid state.
They don’t know what goes on
Behind closed doors.
Our houses are made of brick
And streets are lined with cobblestone
That date back to the time Jesus walked
The Via Dolorosa.
If you are silent enough,
You can still hear His wail as He falls to the ground
Three times, and then again.
Still, the street soaks up His blood,
The blood of Palestinian children.
What should I tell you?
My ethnic identity is denied
By the “civilized”
My history is painted in the light of
I am of a forgotten people,
Massacred like sheep
Their stories cremated and sprinkled
On the outskirts of
The collective human memory
Have the audacity to tell me
That my people
Do not exist
I am your imaginary, exotic,
Dark eyed, long-lashed brunette,
Past-less, soulless “friend”
With fictional Bedouin beauty.
You don’t even know me.
So, what do you want me to tell you?
Should I tell you I am from Jerusalem,
Then sit here and smile at you,
As you ignorantly tell me a colourful story
About some fabricated “birthright” experience
Your friend had last summer?
Should I plaster a crisp, clear, North-American definition
On my forehead
For your convenience?
Should I purse my lips together
When you tell me that all is fair in love and war
As long as I support “God’s people”?
You have seen nothing of love, nor war,
And certainly nothing of God,
If you think it is “fair”
For children to be killed
Then be deemed “non-existent”.
I am of Oud music pounding against the human heart
I am of Argeeleh scent floating up to the heavens
I am of children striving against bat and bullet for their education
I am of fathers giving blood
Mothers giving blood
Children giving blood
Christ giving blood.
I am of Palestine
And I speak the language of my ancestors.
“I guess I just never learned it,” I respond.
“That’s too bad”