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The Giving Tree

[Aja Monet Bacquie in Hebron. Image by Christopher Hazou] [Aja Monet Bacquie in Hebron. Image by Christopher Hazou]

After #DDPalestine








At the core of suffering, there is always a door, a wall.

The knob shouting, they came in violently. Before

the sun rose, there was an Israeli flag


posted outside. Beit Hanina, Silwan, Sheikh Jurrah. They came in

violently for her home, her dignity or both, veins on

a grandmother’s wrist pleading over a stove that fed


the faces around it, rusted faucets cleansing tired hands

and rinsing cauliflower, potatoes, carrots. Picture frames

of memories smiling back to her, knocked down.


Doors arrest the body, walls are everywhere. If her wrinkles

could speak, they’d say: Is there a country where humans will

find refuge? Her dimple would follow, Here


is my grandson, Muhammad, a poet. Please bring him. There

is a killing all around, blood thirsts the ground, land littered

by weeping olives, a boy in Galilee demonstrates, runs


as soldiers chase after, they strike Asel with the base of a rifle.

He trips & falls. A seed of peace, face down in an olive grove.

They shoot him–execution-style–his parents cannot rid  


the image of when he first discovered his toes out of their bodies,

the baby they brought home together, now a young man,

feet fumbling out of the rubble. Witness a child die,


and quickly descend into a realm of demons. Witness your child

die, and you become the demon, hurled to the earth, manacled

everlasting to who you are after–They came in


violently. Every Sunday is bloody, every mouth is a house

of prayer. They came in violently, every hand is a God

who heals or hurts, heals and hurts. Twenty-nine foreheads


kneeled to worship the ground and never rose again. There was no flag,

no supper. One hundred and twenty-five open wounds wail

the last fast, dawn to sunset—an offering? What sort of god


murders during invocation? In their own home? What god murders at

all? Tongues torn from praise, mourn. We cried loudly for

who we were before, knowing we could not unknow


what was felt. We listened loudly. Still, violently. Our laughter

startled their grimaces. We came with our joy, our heartache, our pain.

We shoved through checkpoints with our passports


our music

            our customs

                        our beliefs

our faith

            our protest

                        our song


our artists

            our activists

                      our dreams


In Hebron, a web of wired mesh flickered above us, shards of bottled

threat, and scraps of garbage thrown by settlers. We were welcomed

by Umm Yasin for a meal of Maklooba.


They came in violently, she said, while placing a pile of plates and utensils

            on the table, even a fetus is not protected. Tear gas thrown in her

courtyard, soldiers stomped down the door. She was


brought to the hospital. It’s heart. It’s heart stopped beating, she said

She served us olives she stole from her own trees and we huddled

in the bone-clinging cold, witnessing the want


to belong, flung foreign through a door. They came in violently, she said.

 We came in violently. Displaced, Black, and American. Still,

                        she fed us. 

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