The message comes through aol.com, finds me off
balance in a small school in Jersey, snow
puffing down, no newspaper in sight.
Hi love, the message reads, thinking of you
in London, heart in Gaza.
Unsigned, I know the e-mail address like my own
name, reply too quickly, no words in the text, then
correct my mistake, love, I write, yes
heart in Gaza. I don’t know
what else to say.
Is there a poem in Gaza that hasn’t been written?
I know you’re Palestinian, he said to me, I know you are
a man in the Dheisheh Camp.
Guards questioned me at the Telaviv airport:
where did we go, did we visit a mosque, a synagogue
did I eat the poems of Darwish
drink coffee he brewed, each grain an oud
standing at his window of fire
my tax dollars shining through?
In my suitcase I wrapped
shards of a bulldozed home, the only teacup
flew back, a dirty gull with a passport
each story contraband.
We are related, I rub olive oil on arms, belly, neck, soak bread in it —
I had to see for myself, after Seder’s bitter herbs
taste the lie.
Now I understand, my mother said, now I understand
reading my journey, Jewish girl, promised land, betrayal
a poem in Gaza.