Kathy Engel: Nakbah


olive world more ancient than these sixty years
more than a number knows
more patient than the mud of coffee
sips my soul
will not let go

to be clear: a wall is not a bridge
it is a mirror
occupation is not business
as usual
it is a sin
an invention
of fear
(fear of invention)

the story
can only be owned by the speaker
60 years
dry as a desert scar
dance of water under water
maps the world as it might have been

saffron petals bless the Jenin night
a grandmother's sage-oiled hands
after the attack
parents become children
children grow old between Nablus stars
and Gaza dawn
then gone

resilience is the geography
of this 60 year day
of separation
over Hebron dusk
the house defies the Caterpillar
the tongue defies silence
names refuse to be erased
identity cards burn themselves
the heart disallows theft of itself

this olive world
these sixty years
make way for something only
love can know
the way a mother knows the meter of her child's breath
and when it doesn't

I invite a new old identity:
you can't take someone's home
to build your own
these sixty years
this olive world
let there be

Kathy Engel
May 2008