BBCF

The Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation

Poetry

 

 

For Shaima

At the post office
when I mailed my letter to you
I asked:
is the mail going through to Iraq?
no notice that it is not
was the reply.
I bought the stamp
and sent my greetings.

I am thinking of you and your friends
in the courtyard of a thousand years old university
where you studied my language
the language of imperialism
the language of greed

you wore a scarf and giggled
come to the WC and
I will show you my hair
it is very long.

around me the voices of death
shout now
we want war
we will kill you to save you
missiles are ready to fly
to destroy your historic city
to kill you and your widowed mother
and the man you love
and smash your dreams to rubble

in your graduation photo
you and other women wore
special red scarves that day
and you clutched Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse-
a symbol of imperial power
to amuse,
to divert,
to lie.
Why do you hold it?
while we amuse ourselves
to death of the soul
while we starve and bomb
you to death of hope.
I did not ask, it seems unkind
to cavil at a ridiculous rodent
I sent the most banal of greetings
of wishes for your marriage
even though you have no money
little food
and no job prospects
and my feeble wishes for peace.

you studied George Bernard Shaw
I sent you papers last year about
the irony of an Englishman
who satirized war
as a silly male game
you did well on your thesis
Shaw was born long before Disney
now satire is impossible
irony is luxury
the troops are ready
Disneyland is guarded
as carefully as the Pentagon
symbols are important.

did my letter arrive
before the missiles?
did any plane carry a harmless cargo
to a country tipped
on the chasm of destruction?

will you marry that nice man
in your graduating class before
he takes a uniform
and departs with a gun?
before your dreams become dust?

only if the stamp has more power
than the bomb
only if our words, our voices
our power of peace
can drive the missiles back.

if you ask me, dear Shaima,
I could not answer
but with only hope
only with a stamp
as the postal clerk
looks sympathetic when
I start to weep before her
will it arrive before you die?
only         if
only hope the letter comes
before the bombs,
a letter carried by millions of voices
a power with no threat
on the desert wind
hear the words:
NO TO WAR.

I met Shaima, an English student, at the Al Mustensyria University, probably the oldest university in the world.
The USA bombed it in April, 2003.
Theresa Wolfwood

 

Spring is a Foreign Country in Palestine

spring is a foreign country in Palestine
where
grieving women go mad for the longing
of blossoms
their throats stopped with stones
they scream
in unuttered laments
cries that stick and
lie heavy
on crumbled walls
some women keen without cease
like sand abrades membranes
screams spew out the raw edges
of pain
each agony, each wound,
rends their loss
their children
shriven in xeric desolation

full olive trees
once were saplings nurtured
and loved as family
the fruit of the future
the slow dense twisted mystery
of the bitter plum
of golden oil.
the women lean into the rubble
that metastases where once
were homes filled with children’s play
and now sons,
even daughters,
will not stay

they grieve for villages, houses
grew like sisters beside olive trees
that disappear in maws of steel
that bring   hate to life
as real life vanishes
the women watch the ravens
pick through the rubble
global scavengers feast on
misery and destruction

200,000 hectares of olive trees
die in agony         limbs fractured
or they disappear whole
stolen for victor’s profit
victims of war
whose crime is life
and criminals are those who
seek a homeland where
spring should come
with new growth
and the dove returns
only when the branch of peace
regenerates
but now women stare into a
bleached and empty sky, doubting life
in a landscape where
seasons, land, family
are all foreign countries

in their madness
they build again
kneel in the dust of the past
women dig and plant once more
with work cracked hands
frail seedlings, saplings,
food for the future seasons
and lie with their men
and say: is it madness
to hope
to see
a time when
our seeds live
to multiply
and our homes and orchards
resound with
the call of doves?

it is not madness
but       abundance of life
the force that no army
no machine can vanquish
it is abundance of promise fulfilled
they will see, and
so will doubting youth
when spring brings them home
to see the carefree play of children
to see proud men again
take up their hoes
and peace comes
like a downy feather on the breeze
unnoticed until it lights on
a sleeping infant’s cheek
when all live in repatriated spring
in green and song scented lands.

TW Jan/03


Theresa Wolfwood, Victoria, BC, CANADA

 

We are the Canaries

We are the canaries
in the mine shaft
of daily fear
of a suffocating end
that we, the world,
even unto the smallest fly,
will die snuffed by poison
emanating from crazed leaders
from profit mad media moguls
from the toxic fumes of lies
that   pour
from laboratories of prevarication
silken words
false images
invisible atoms
measured into
vessels everywhere
billboards, expert sources,
surveys, sale flyers
policy papers from consultants
restructured
companies, governments
whole countries,
the
miasma of conspiracy
so powerful
even the very air we breath
is threatened.

we are the canaries
smelling the methane of death and greed
we go ahead
resolute in our rallies, our meetings, our walks
our words, our deeds become a chorus
bearing witness against prophecy
the deceit of greedy promise
we sing even in dark places
prisons without light
we sing into open skies
and empty streets
we will sing and sing
until our frail lungs exhale
our truth
that will enclose
the busy,
the apathetic,
the otherwise occupied with
golf courses or cruises
or the magic of malls
and those who have no strength
and lack bread
and those who hear only bullets and bombs
and lack shelter
we will sing until they all hear us
sing until they lift up and join us
sing until we sing the songs together.
we will be as a host of golden birds
rising from invisible and deep places
we will banish the fear
we will transform the power of desecration
our song will restore the earth
and the sun will rise anew
to celebrate us on a pure and glistening morning.

Theresa Wolfwood Jan/03

 

The Security Guard

A tall, sandy, young man
he loped over to us, friendly
like a golden retriever, came
to greet us at the slick USA chain hotel.
He knew we’d come for the hearing.
– I’m security to keep the peace,
not just for the judge, but you too.
worked ten years
a policeman
on the streets of Vancouver.
I saw things I don’t want
to remember.
I hate violence
I hope this hearing will be peaceful-
he turned to leave
-time to go in and get set up –
then
– Don’t tell them I said it
but, give them Hell
I get the creeps just thinking
about those nukes out there.
we left the sun and walked into our
shadows
to assemble
in the gloom of judgement
a dusty, sunless room
the “hearing officer”
a judge
with a mind empty of metaphor
crammed with legal minutae
his words were sharp silica,
erosion against our passion,
for him even our logic was
too remote,
our love of light, of life,
irrelevant
to the legislation.
assaulted by his
letters of the law,
we spoke and left.
we breathed again in the sun outside
said goodbye to
our peaceful guard
indifferent to our haste,
he talked

– once
I knew a Japanese woman
in Vancouver,
she had really
unusual tattoos,
one day
I asked her about them –
his words blew past me
as I tried to get away
going home.

then –
she told me –
these are
not tattoos
but
the pattern
of the
kimono
I was
wearing
the day
they
dropped
the bomb
on
Hiroshima

 

Poems from Iraq

Phoenix of Babylon

Honeyed by the lowering sun
walls of Babylon
cluster around history
sturdy leaves and stalks
push
through rubble
that once enclosed
a queen’s lush garden.
the archeologist walks in
ancient bitumen bricked tracks
and speaks as though
King Nebuchanezzar II
is a recently
departed dear friend,
easily we see how an exquisite
glow
from a golden chariot
could burnish these honeyed walls.
behind him from a crevice in
shaded crenulations
a kingfisher soars
steals
the sun to polish
his azurite, turquoise,
jasper feathers,
spreads a skein of brilliant hues
as he dives to the palm sheltered river.
around our heads in shimmering halos
colours of old Babylon flash
in dust motes of countless millions
from the lives of residents
millennia past
reincarnate in today’s soil.
the rebuilt ancient halls
roofless to the sky and its creatures
echo, echo, echo,
from every patted, stamped brick,
the sweating chants of celebration
of an awesome sun god.
has trickster kingfisher
fooled us into optimism?
the prophet from the Tigris
promises
a return of jewelled splendor.
the archeologist says goodbye
…I will remember you, you knew the bird…
we walk
away
from lengthening silent shadows
toward a fractured present.

Where were you?

My friend said it
…where were you
when we went to war
against Iraq?
he said
…I was in Ottawa
my feet freezing at 20 below
watching limousine after limousine
sweeping black through
the snowscape
to deliver the MPs
to deliver the vote
..yes, we want war.
in Victoria
pansies and primulas
bloomed in the planter
by the harbour
all nice for American tourists,
I climbed up on its brick edge
and said
to the sombre crowd
…this is the saddest of days,
the peace movement has failed,
we see the first post Cold War
war…power unwrapped,
steel and force
without fear of reprisal.
ten years later,
at two o’clock in the morning
squeezed in a crowd
with drums pounding,
chants in Arabic, in English…
down, down, with the
USA…students cheer,
as flared with gasoline
stars and stripes burn
to a sliver of ash.
Speeches condemn the sanctions
outside the Palm Beach Hotel,
yes,
that is its name,
this country is
the home of palms, dates, the food
of gods,
and wheat for
bread for the world.
I meet and photo a man with his family,
one would have been a baby
ten years ago.
did he rush his nursing wife
to a bomb shelter as the bombs whined
in the night air?
and then, too close,
smashed, burned, exploded,
a school, a bridge, a shop or
a neighbour’s home?
They were there ten years ago
as I spoke in the winter’s gloom
across the world.

Why would I want to kill?
this family, this little girl
with round coals of eyes
under Freda Kahlo’s eyebrows?
Ten years later, I am here
in the crowds of Baghdad,
I know where I am, but
I still don’t know why
we kill and kill and kill.
Maybe one day
a black limousine
will arrive
with the man
with the answer.
Until then I wonder…
is she the child who died
one month later while
I looked at pansies and primulas
in Victoria?
I will never know
and
I still don’t know why.
Where were you?
Where are you now?

Bird child

His skin is tight
pulled without relief
stretched fiercely
over frailest of bones
eroded from within
by gyrating forces
eating his body, even his hair,
reduced to the faintest of fluff.
Through that blued skin
transparent as silk
I see his valiant veins
pulsing a pavan
where the myth of life
fights
against oblivion between
pride and despair.
His fleshless nose
sharp like a hawk’s beak
grasps at breath
for his shriveled
flightless body.
He cries with pale mews
for seconds
in days of silence
his first and only
word…pain…
is the marker of
these suffering, these, his
last days.
I want to wrap a gift of
seconds, minutes,
hours, days,
weeks, months,
years,
in gossamer bandages tied
with strands of desert wind.
I will steal them from CEOs
smug in boardrooms,
grab time from retired generals
playing golf,
suck blood from retired presidents
by sinking barbed hooks in their flesh
as they fish on their yachts.
I want to give this child
shrunken
in his crippled shadow
the impossible gift…
the joy
of
free flight.

 

Chiapas

No Tenemos Que Pedir
Permiso Para Ser Libres*

*We Do Not Have To Ask Permission In Order To Be Free
(Zapatista slogan on grandstand in front of cathedral, San Cristobal de las Casas)

Well fed tourists, hungry for exotica
gawk at the sunlit facade
an old Spanish cathedral
in older Mesozoic mountains
where
doves moan on precarious precipices
on angels
freshly painted mustard amarillo.

Brown shadows scuttle on
sharp edges of history
under walls of mayan, maximillian and moors
symbols of power long gone
Christ still bleeds
on the cross
inside these walls
well impregnated
with male urine.

Centuries pass
they come and come
conquistadores all
white and strong
blind
in armour of self-belief
construct of global power.

His thick slugs of arms
swoop
upon a scrap of humanity
filthy in a black skirt
the rest mud coloured
her legs
frail twigs of earth.

Her terror ignored
he laughs guffaws of glee
My God!
he laughs?
where is glee in this girl child?
maybe five years old
who falls in rigid fear
from his fleshy noose
and vanishes from
the worn pavement
into cracks of lost time
to die within a year.

T.W.

 

Plenary

A bunched plenary of clouds
huddles over San Cristobal
agrees to strike on dusty streets below
where on flood-safe raised stoneways
God’s creatures danced their destinies
for five centuries on even
more ancient pathways.

Two women, Mayan in their compact darkness,
probably sisters, moving in chiaroscuro
one wears a red huipil
a threaded mythology across her breasts
crimson ribbons interwoven in her braid
that curves like a mountain range
to merge in the earth of black wool skirt
her thickened feet fit
in smooth stone caressed by her foremother’s heel.

Other in skirt of cheap floral print
of everywhere’s global factory
wears a faded pink T-shirt
exhorting winning power to
Washington Redskins
her neon green sandals slip
as first drops strike.
Joining hands the sisters run
past a cardboard sign hand lettered
“your name on a grain of rice”
into the supermercado,

juntas, together; siempre, forever.
T.W.

 

For Mourid Barghouti

In our world of violence
the small, the familiar,
sweet and sad,
acts of love and art,
are made
even more precious;
my hand strokes the words of your poems
arranged like empty houses
on the page.

you sit alone
on stony ground
leaning against
the trunk
of a barren olive tree,
you also hold
a page of your poems,
raise your head,
lift your precious cargo,
and read to the hungry bees.

words float up,
lodge in branches,
become blossoms;
wind drifts their pollen
until it finds my garden
of fir and fern,
it comes to rest on my hand
open on your poems.

Mourid Barghouti is a Palestinian poet, living in exile in Egypt.

 

Jesus in the Parking Lot

Just one of a million strip malls
no trees        a slab of wavy pavement
without planters filled with geraniums or lobelia
A row of no-frills factory outlets
boxes with empty eyes
boarded windows
signs for seconds in
outsize jeans
a gunsmith with double bars and surveillance cameras
specials on
disposable diapers
bread machines
twelve volt TVs for the car.

The parking lot
a scatter of
pickups and SUVs
a few old beaters dreaming
of new chrome and cheap gas
with
bumper stickers
-America        Love it or Leave it-
I tried to leave        it was a
mistake
to want to photograph
the store front in the middle
with yard high neon letters
        The Alliance Church of Jesus Christ the King

But he waved me down with a baseball cap
so dirty the logo was illegible
his scruffy dog drooping beside him
trying not to look
as his hairy master asked for a ride.
I’ve got to get out before the cops come
I asked them for change
enough for a meal for me and Matt here
they said I was too dirty to pray with them
get a job or get a life
join the army be a soldier for Jesus in Iraq
he shivered in the rain
wrapped in an old grey blanket
dripping.

Told them I could be Jesus or maybe his cousin –
we’re calling the cops, dopehead –
Matt’s too small to be a donkey
but he’s my best friend
so lady, give us a ride into Bellingham
Jesus doesn’t live here anymore.

Theresa Wolfwood, August, 20004

 

Dalit

I wondered

if I touch the skin

gentle

on your perfect cheek

that the pain

born of history

would explode

from your bones.

When our hands

clasped

I felt the hard geography

of your resistance.

In the open sky

of your radiant face

I saw dance

I heard song

you and your sisters

together        resolute

on the path towards

freedom’s golden horizon.

Dalits: we used to call them Untouchables.
Poem and photo, WSF in Mumbai. TW/2004

Nuts and Stones

For Hilary Newitt Brown 1909-2007 and Virginia Woolf 1882-1941

fir and cedar forests guard the orchard,
apples are over now, nuts fall in mossy grass
shaken by slender strands of a once fierce
wind exhausted from the resistance
of grey stone slabs shaping the bay below
where the rhythm of waves
rises and falls in constant cataracts.

I set out to the bay to watch the storm
my pockets filled with hazelnuts
my hands roll them and caress their
intimate brownness together with comradely warmth
I veer away from the grey breaking waves where
stones, small and smooth, lie under my feet in millions
their glacial history would chill my fingers
their weight would strain the fabric of my coat.

Virginia must have had cold hands already
when she set out on her final walk
alone towards the Ouse
she had a literary bond a meeting
of minds in print with my friend Hilary
a nurturer of trees, fruit, flowers and people
who died after the fullest of lives at ninety-eight.

I wonder if Virginia might have found peace
from her torments on this small island
-a peaceful place so close to paradise-
and walked these shores with stalking herons,
streaming pipers and a companion
like Hilary, soothed by warm nuts
in deep pockets as they talked about their work
and ideas for social change.

would she have chosen life
and returned to the orchard for more
refusing as I do now the unforgiving waters
to leave them to fulfill their Sisyphus task
dragging and shifting centuries of stone.

know that the relentless power of
water and wind can kill or create.

Hilary wrote “Women must Choose” in 1937 (Gollancz, UK) which Virginia Woolf quotes in “Three Guineas” (Hogarth Press, 1938). Both books have been described as feminist and anti-fascist. Hilary and her husband immigrated to Hornby Island, BC, Canada in 1937 fearing a fascist victory in Europe. They never left. Hilary was an environmental, peace, and community activist there for 70 years, living on the beautiful property which became, as a result of her initiative and generosity, the Heron Rocks Friendship Centre.

Signals

cattle clamber together in confusion
leave their calm grazing
press flank to flank under a tree
and paw the dust with uneasy hooves

the dog’s insistent bark rouses the sleeping
shepherd who has no choice but to follow
the sheep dog—driven to
a shady overhanging cliff

snakes who love the sun on hot stones
slither into dark cracks followed by a slink
of cat who forgets her taste for snake
leaves her perch, she heeds their haste

flowers not understanding the mystery
close blossoms tight in fearful
anticipation of an unnatural night under
the trembling leaves of a massive tree

in river pools the fish dive deep
lie still on gravel beds where no food
can be found but on the surface
insects swirl in sudden confusion

swallows, bee eaters and other
perpetually feeding birds leave
the clouds of insects and
seek their nests but do not sleep

nearby are people, men gossip
women prepare meals and sooth
babies whose cries may be signals
the adults take no heed and carry on.

An Afternoon in March

put away the banners
stack up the placards
the demonstration is over
a few hundred hardy souls
clumped under umbrellas
it always rains in March
weary and dejected
we cleave to friends and home

we dry out our socks and jeans
drink hot tea to chase the chill
we wonder if anyone cares
what effect we had
do the Saturday shoppers
just think oh not again
those crazy protestors
why don’t they get a life

some fret that media
ignore us and politicians don’t
answer letters while bombers
rain down their gifts to the world
somewhere in Asia, Africa,
Latin America, a mother gathers
tiny fragments of almost
weightless legs arms organs

while we drink our tea
and plan the next event
rain or shine.

En eftermiddag i marts
af Theresa Wolfwood
An Afternoon in March translated into Danish/oversat af Erik Stinus

så ruller vi fanerne op
lægger plakaterne i bunker
demonstrationen er forbi
nogle få hundrede stædige sjæle
klumpet sammen under paraplyer
altid regner det i marts
trætte og mismodige spredes vi
går til vennerne og hjem

vi tørrer sokker og jeans
drikker varm te mod forkølelser
spekulerer på om det overhodet
gør indtryk på nogen
tænker mon folk på lørdagsindkøb
bare åh nej nu igen
disse skøre evindelige protesterende
har de ikke andet at tage sig til

nogle ærgrer sig over at medierne ignorerer os og politikerne ikke
besvarer breve mens bombemaskiner
lar deres gaver regne over verden
og i Asien og Afrika
Latinamerika et sted en mor samler
bittesmå stykker af næsten
vægtløse ben arme indre dele sammen

så drikker vi vores te
og planlægger næste gadetræf
hvordan end vejret

Theresa Wolfwood er canadier og bor i Victoria. Hun er blandt andet fredsaktivist. Hun skriver i bladene, og hvor hun ellers kan komme til orde. Og så udgiver hun egne publikationer. Hun er tillige billedkunstner. Et af hendes digte optræder på cd`en Art in Resistance/Resistance in Art fra det Sociale Forum i Mumbai i 2004.
Bestil på www.kunstnereforfred.dk

To a gift box of Swiss chocolates

wrapped in pictures of Swiss snowy mountains,
quaint castles, pristine lake scenes
they shoulder so snugly against each other in sealed squares where the alps shelter the smooth brown
chocolate designed to melt on the receiving
tongue wafers of warm bliss give
moments of ecstatic oblivion to all who taste
but this pleasure has no history
in postcard pictures that hide small
children who hugged their mothers
clung to their brown warmth but were cleaved away
and sold somewhere else in Africa where days are
filled with a sun that can melt chocolate and memory
all day these waifs hack small fruits that
hug their mother tree and her limbs
golden pods that enclose the precious cocoa
in the heat drenched night in a crowded hut
their fear and sadness overcome in the thick blackness
they sleep exhausted shoulder to shoulder
oblivious of rats and factories where rivers
of smooth dark chocolate flow into neat forms
and harden for our greed and delight
these captured children sold as slaves
for our succulent desires shrivel, starve,
sicken, beaten and bruised they fall on
hostile foreign ground
an end to pain and hunger would be a benison
as there can be no possibility of relief
never will they savour that worshipped wafer
on their sere tongues, never will see castles
on glacier green lakes snug beside snowy mountains.

Dédié au cadeau d’une boite de chocolats suisses

Enveloppés dans leurs images de monts neigeux,
De chateaux suisses, de lacs d’eau fraîche,
Ils se frôlent entre eux si près
Dans leurs enveloppes de montagnes couvertes de neige,
De châteaux baroques, de lacs limpides,
Ils se côtoient dans leurs carrés scellés
Où les Alpes abritent leur chocolat brun lisse
Fait pour se fondre sur une langue avide.
Gauffrettes de tendre félicité dégagent
Des moments d’extase à ceux qui y goûtent …
Cependant ces délices manquent d’arrière-plan.
Les cartes postales occultent les petits enfants
Qui serraient leurs mamans,
Qui se cramponnaient a leur chaleure noire
Mais qu’on a arrachés et vendus ailleurs en Afrique
Ou les jours de chaud soleil fondent le chocolat et la mémoire.
Chaque jour ces petites épaves taillent les fruits
Qui s’accrochent à la souche nourrissière
Et ses branches; ces fruits – gousses dorées
Qui cachent le riche cacao.
A la chaleur de la nuit dans leur case bondée,
La peur, la tristesse vaincues par la fatigue,
Ils s’endorment,  entassés, exténués, oublieux des rats
Et des usines où coule le chocolat lisse et foncé
Dans des moules, pour durcir aux délices des gourmands —
Ces enfants captifs, esclaves, se ratatinent, meurent de faim,
Pour rassasier nos désirs. Malades, maltraités, malheureux,
Ils succombent dans une terre hostile, étrangère:
Un terme à leurs peines, à leur faim, sera une bienveillance,
Car il n’y aura point de soulagement.
Jamais ces enfants ne sentiront cette hostie brune
Sur la langue flétrie; jamais ne verrons les chateaux
Réflétés dans les lacs verts abrités par les montagnes enneigées.

Theresa Wolfwood.  Translation from English by Andrée Scott

The news from Gaza; Jan. 10, 2009

“Take some kittens,
some tender little moggies in a box,”
said Jamal, a surgeon at Al Shifa,
Gaza’s main hospital.

The nurse holds a blood-stained cardboard box
“Seal up the box, then jump on it
with all your weight and might, until
you feel their little bones crunching,
until you hear the last muffled little mew.”

“Try to imagine what would happen
if we do this, and the images were circulated.
Hear the righteous outrage of public opinion,
the complaints of the animal rights organisations…”

He continues, looking at the box.
“Israel trapped hundreds of civilians
inside a school as if in a box,
including many children,
crushed them with all the might of its bombs.”
“The world barely reacted we would
have been better off to be cats rather than
Palestinians; we would be more protected.”
He opens the box.

Inside are amputated limbs,
legs and arms, some from the knee down,
others with the entire femur attached,
amputated from the injured of
Al Fakhura school in Jabalia.

****************
A poem that paraphrases a true report from Gaza. January, 2009

JUST A JOB

nestled in the pristine mountains
clean air, tall green pines and firs
nice white homes garnished with
lush lawns full double garages
a town of lovingly tended gardens
it’s a great place to live.

in the crisp peace of dawn
he gets up to weed runner beans
to deadhead climbing roses
to eat ham and eggs with the family
he walks the dog    reads the paper
then he drops his son at baseball practice.

he drives through guarded gates
to his office deep in a hillside
opens many locked doors
to a secret chapel filled with
big screens and banks of blinking controls
he finds their peaceful hum soothing.

all day he presses keys moves images
studies virtual maps of a distant land
his hands command the keyboard
his drones discharge their load
he eliminates six mountain villages before
leaving to take his daughter to a birthday party.

TW  2009

Hearts

you enter my land break it
with your cruel machines
I watch you bring more soldiers
to guard your destruction
trucks arrive
disgorge relentless blocks of concrete
align them like stones
in a cemetery
you add your garden of razor wire
your trees are
high electric fences
your life is steel and cement
our life greets every dawn
in fractured villages
our trees replanted
as fearful children
still grow beautiful
your wall your brutal gift
spans the world
our cause grows
an olive seed
in the hearts
of good people.
Take up a hammer and a chisel,
break down the wall in your heart.

Oh Palestine

everywhere the pale whispers of olive blossoms
bulldozers gash the innocent earth
puffs of warm bread and snowy yogurt
cruel coils of razor wire obstruct
endless glasses of mint tea
dragon breath of tear gas
dark sweetness of cool dates
sun and sky absorbed in grey gun steel
a chair waits beside generous roses
checkpoints in noon heat emanate cold fear
hear soft laughter savour loving cheeks
insistent ambulances hurdle past

oh Palestine
your broken skin exhales the steadfast scent of za´atar
oh Palestine

We are still here

Last night we went to the seashore

My father carried my little brother

He cries a lot and hardly moves

Mother held the baby

My older brother and I carried blankets

They aren´t heavy, we only have a few.

 

Nights in Gaza are cold

We wear all our clothes and snuggle together

Our house has no walls or roof

So we are accustomed now to lie

Under the dark sky

When we are hungry mother says

Count stars and we do until we sleep.

 

We reached the beach slowly

The stones hurt my feet because

My shoes have stone-size holes

I don’t cry because Mother says

I am eight now a big girl

Llittle brother cries for all of us.

 

Father hardly ever talks

He walks all night holding my sick brother

This night we wanted to stay awake

Under our blankets we waited

Lying on a patch of sand

The sea so quiet we could hear

the murmurs of hundreds of people.

 

We were told ships were coming with medicine

And cement to rebuild our house

We try everyday to pile up broken blocks

Even I can carry small bits

But they don’t stay together very well

We waited happy to know help was coming.

 

Father has a little job in the day

He used to be a teacher but the school has gone

He sells cigarettes beside the road

I did sleep until my mother shook me.

The stars had left the sky

We go home now she said

The ships won´t come they were captured.

 

We bought a fish from a fisherman

To cook at home for breakfast

As the sun came up I stumbled along

Father said nothing but I want to say

Please tell your friends

We are still here

in Gaza.

Theresa Wolfwood May, 2010

مازلنا هنا

الليلة الماضية ذهبنا الى الشاطئ
حمل و الدي أخي الصغير
الذي كان يبكي بشدة ولا يكاد يتحرك
امي حملت الرضيع
و في حين حملت و اخي البطانيات
لم يزنوا الكثير فهم قليل و ليالي غزة قارسة البرودة فنحتمي بعضنا ببعض وقد لبسنا كل ما لدينا
منزلنا ليس له جدار أو سقف
وقد اعتدنا على النوم تحت السماء المظلمة
وعندما نجوع تقول لنا أمي أن نعد النجوم
في السماء الى أن يغلبنا النوم
وصلنا للشاطئ ببطئ و أنا اتألم من الحصى الذي يخترق الثقوب في حذائي.
ولكني لا أبكي لأن أمي تقول أنني في الثامنة من عمري وما عدت طفلة و لنترك أخي الصغير يبكي نيابة عنا كلنا.
قلما يتحدث أبي ويكتفي بحمل أخي الصغير
الليلة أردنا أن لا ننام فانتظرنا تحت اللحاف مستلقون على حصى الشاطيء ومن هدوء البحر استمعنا لهمسات الناس.
فقد اعلمونا أن السفن قادمة بالدواء و بالاسمنت لبناء منازلنا فقد كنا نجمع الحجار كل يوم حتى أنا حملت الحجارة و لكنها تعود فتنهد
انتظرنا بسرور للعون القادم لنا أبي  لا يكاد يعمل بالنهار فقد كان معلماً قبل أن تختفي المدرسة أصبح يبيع السجائر على الطرق
استسلمت للنوم قليلأ قبل أن تهزني أمي فقد غابت النجوم
منعت السفن فلنعد للمنزل، لقد صدوها فهي غير آتية.
اشترينا سمكة من الصياد لنفطر عليها في المنزل و عندما أشرقت الشمس قضيت وقتي عبثاً لم يقل والدي شيئاً و لكنني أتوقف لأقول
قولوا لرفاقكم
نحن ما زلنا هنا – في غزة.

تريسا ولفود

 

To the girl in the bikini on August 6, 2005

with butterscotch skin and honey hair

in the innocent confidence

of youth you stroll by

licking an ice cream cone

your body smooth and unsullied

as sweet confection

your pleasure an act of communion

you saunter beside funky shops

sheltered by tall firs

signalled by circling golden eagles

when you walk

the atoll of your breasts

seal-slick

shimmers above your careful tan

your bikini acknowledges no tragedy

sightless beauty does not understand

the horror of decades past

crimes of present times

you are too young for history

we are Women in Black a group in silence

you do not notice us shaded by

a red Japanese cherry

mourning nuclear destruction

we ponder intelligence in denial

I think of another island

on the dark side of the earth

while we stand in noon’s sun

an island where there are

no cows for cream

no gardens for fat melons

where palms drop mutant fruit

food comes on supply ships

when toxic soil cannot nurture life

I see on the palette of your glowing skin

the poison plumes begin to develop

shadows and fissures emerge your skin sears

you become a map of the Bikini Atoll

twenty-two nuclear bomb tests later

TW 2005

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