Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review

Hope

Academic journal article Parnassus : Poetry in Review

Hope

Article excerpt

It's hopeless, you told me,

waking in the middle of the night-

the moonlight drifting

in through the curtain-

and you looked at your wife,

at her thin, whitening shoulders

and dark hair

as she was slowly breathing,

thinking again and again

of all this evil,

the loss amassed in the soured heart

day after day, for two years and more.

It was in Karmei Avdat.

I rose, you said,

and without my glasses

went out barefoot onto the gravel

to a bench we'd moved

against the shed

and sat there in my underwear,

staring out toward the side of the hill.

Along that slope, I told you,

five million stones have been cast:

the stones will always be stones,

no good will ever come

of them or to them-

not in another two years,

and not in a hundred.

But if you shift your eyes

even a meter to the side,

you'll see a plant

with five tomatoes.

That's where you should look.

These vile people

will acquire

plane after plane

and bomb after bomb,

and more will be wounded and killed,

more be ruined and uprooted;

for this is all they are capable of,

and not tomorrow, and not forever,

will any good come

of them or to them,

for evil holds no promise

and possesses neither the life nor yield

contained in a single tomato.

When I think of this land,

love flows through my heart.

When I think of Amira and Neta,

and Rachel in her orange parka-

and not of the pus of the cruel

or their barking,

and their boom boom boom-

but this substance,

this certain serum

that's secreted in me

and throughout the world gives rise

to building, repair, and enlightenment,

counsel and cooperation,

this is the hope

that lends me a place and ground

in which to send out a bold root

there, beyond that heap of stones

at the Mas'ha checkpoint,

at the store run by the old grocer

with the white skullcap

who stands by the door

with plates of labneh

which he takes out of the rickety fridge;

and this is the longing and yearning

to go down into the village groves

and through the breach in the barbed-wire fence,

to cross the ditch-

turning my back

to the land-grabbers' contractor

who, with his guards,

peers out from the jeep

at the burrowing bulldozer-

and like someone in Florence

climbing to the top

of Brunelleschi's dome,

to mount that hill

and, under the tree beside the tent,

to sit with Riziq and Nazeeh,

to look into Nazeeh's face,

at his toenails and black sandal,

to see Riziq's cigarette-

this is hope-

and with Nazeeh and Riziq

to look out far beyond the fence,

beyond the barbarity,

toward the border of humanity. …

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