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"They don't have snow days in Palestine" - Poem

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  • Glenn Welker
    friends, everyday we scan, read, forward, worry, appreciate, respect, become angry, frustrated, receive l00 s of posts laden with concern for the status of
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2004
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      friends, everyday we scan, read, forward, worry, appreciate, respect,
      angry, frustrated, receive l00's of posts laden with concern for the
      of humanity throughout our mother earth-- posts from unique and
      spirits, impacted by war and injustice, united in love, hope, and a
      for peace for our younger generations... today, the info moves me to
      and shed a tear...

      thank you for your dedication to peace, and for reading this forward
      from a
      friend and gentlewoman in the mideast:

      One of my children's teachers said one day that everytime he spoke to
      daughter and one year old grandson in Ghazza, he felt a pang in his
      because the only things the toddler knew and got excited about were the
      tanks, the sounds of gun-shots, and the armed Israeli soldiers that
      passed before the doors of his parent's home. That is all he knew. Until
      visited his grandfather in Jordan at age two, all he knew were the fear,
      curfews, the noise, the tanks and the gunshots, the warplanes, the
      demolitions, the nightmares. He did not know that others could live in
      other way.

      In Southern Italy, there are areas where olive trees cover miles of
      and valleys. I find these trees touching in some way. Their trunks
      especially have a certain form and texture which I love. But imagine a
      little, what would the Italians do if some invader decided to simply
      all their olive trees, all without an exception, what would they do?
      When I
      stood there to admire the view, tears filled my eyes. I thought of all
      trees with which God had blessed the occupied territories, I thought of
      people who had cared for the olive trees from generation to generation,
      thought of the waste and the injustice. It is beyond understanding,
      repair, beyond words.

      The following poem brought back these memories, and more, to me,


      'Hope this comes through. Share it with others -- a beautiful evocative

      poem by my dear friend Lisa.



      Best resources for poets and writers

      2004 War Poetry Contest

      Finalist Lisa Suhair Majaj

      What She Said

      "They don't have snow days in Palestine,
      they have military invasion days."

      (International Solidarity Movement activists, describing
      Palestinian children's lives under Israeli
      military occupation.)

      She said, go play outside,
      but don't throw balls near the soldiers.
      When a jeep goes past
      keep your eyes on the ground.
      And don't pick up stones,
      not even for hopscotch. She said,
      don't bother the neighbors;
      their son was arrested last night.
      Hang the laundry, make the beds,
      scrub that graffiti off the walls
      before the soldiers see it. She said,
      there's no money; if your shoes
      are too tight, cut the toes off.
      This is what we have to eat;
      we won't eat again until tomorrow.
      No, we don't have any oranges,
      they chopped down the orange trees.
      I don't know why. Maybe the trees
      were threatening the tanks. She said,
      there's no water, we'll take baths next week,
      insha'allah. Meanwhile, don't flush the toilet.
      And don't go near the olive grove,
      there are settlers there with guns.
      No, I don't know how we'll harvest
      the olives, and I don't know what we'll do
      if they bulldoze the trees. God will provide
      if He wishes, or UNRWA, but certainly not
      the Americans. She said, you can't
      go out today, there's a curfew.
      Keep away from those windows;
      can't you hear the shooting?
      No, I don't know why they bulldozed
      the neighbor's house. And if God knows,
      He's not telling. She said,
      there's no school today,
      it's a military invasion.
      No, I don't know when it will be over,
      or if it will be over. She said,
      don't think about the tanks
      or the planes or the guns
      or what happened to the neighbors,
      Come into the hallway,
      it's safer there. And turn off that news,
      you're too young for this. Listen,
      I'll tell you a story so you won't be scared.
      Kan ya ma kan - there was or there was not -
      a land called Falastine
      where children played in the streets
      and in the fields and in the orchards
      and picked apricots and almonds
      and wove jasmine garlands for their mothers.
      And when planes flew overhead
      they shouted happily and waved.
      Kan ya ma kan. Keep your head down

      This poem was a finalist in the 2004 War Poetry Contest sponsored by
      Writers. Copyright is reserved to the author.

      About the author
      Lisa Suhair Majaj, a Palestinian American, has published poetry and
      nonfiction in World Literature Today, Visions International, South
      Quarterly, The Women's Review of Books, The Atlanta Review, The Poetry
      Arab Women, The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from
      Middle East, Unrooted Childhoods and elsewhere. She has also co-edited
      collections of critical essays: Going Global: The Transnational
      Reception of
      Third World Women Writers, Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the
      Writer and Artist and Intersections: Gender, Nation and Community in
      Women's Novels. She lives in Nicosia, Cyprus. Links to her writing on
      web include:







      Ms. Majaj's poem, "It Wasn't Poetry", was critiqued in the September
      issue of Winning Writers Newsletter.
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