Poem: ‘Scarecrow’

The rice field birds are too clever for scarecrows,
They know what they love, milk in the grain.

When it happens, there will be no time to look for anyone.
Husband, children, nine brothers and sisters.

You will drop your sugarcane-stick-beating of plastic bucket,
Stop shouting at birds and run.

They will pack you in trucks or herd you for a hundred miles.
Old men will teach you trade with soldiers at checkpoints.

You will give them your spoon, blanket and beans,
They’ll let you keep your life. And if you jump off the truck,

The army jeep trailing it will run you over.
Later, they will accuse you of giving up your land.

Later, you will stand in distribution lines and won’t receive enough to eat.
Your mother will weave you new underwear from flour sacks.

And they’ll give you plastic tents, cooking pots,
Vaccine cards, white pills, and wool blankets.

And you will keep your cool.
Standing with eyes shut tight like you’ve got soap in them,

Arms stretched wide like you’re catching rain.

Fady Joudah is a Palestinian-American physician. His first collection, The Earth in the Attic received the Yale Series for Younger Poets award. He is also the translator of Mahmoud Darwish’s The Butterfly’s Burden and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.