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
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.