Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I built a home with my own hands,
Fitting each rock with infinite care,
Willing walls to rise out of the earth,
The womb of their own hillside.
And as I worked I felt the free air
Teasing my skin and I measured the worth
Of each day’s work and sensed the bird of pride
Fluttering somewhere deep inside.
I planted my children here.
It’s their voices you can hear,
Wheeling like swallows round the olive trees,
No trace of the fear
To come, no hint of smoke on the evening breeze,
When we scrambled up to the roof,
To stand gawping at the moon as she winked upon the seas.
From where did the swarms of locusts come?
Why do they now feast unchecked upon our shame?
Their concrete nests rise up on hills with new names.
The wadis are reeking, choked with their scum.
Their yellow legs appear at every turn.
Beneath each ugly cloud, our land begins to burn.
You see this picture from afar
And turn to face the other way.
Why let our misery intrude
When you’re so sure
All locusts are secure,
Not heading west, then north
Out of the haze of judgement day?
Abigail and Jason spent last week with me and they brought me a copy of 'Palestinian Walks' by Raja Shehadeh, which I immediately read from cover to cover and which inspired the above poem.