Jerusalem

        “Lets be the same wound if we must 
bleed. Lets fight side by side, even if 
the enemy is ourselves: I am yours, 
you are mine.”

 —Tommy Olofsson, Sweden

I’m not interested in
who suffered the most.
I’m interested in
people getting over it.

Once when my father was a boy
a stone hit him on the head.
Hair would never grow there.
Our fingers found the tender spot
and its riddle: the boy who has fallen
stands up. A bucket of pears
in his mother’s doorway welcomes him home.
The pears are not crying.
Later his friend who threw the stone
says he was aiming at a bird.
And my father starts growing wings.

Each carries a tender spot:
something our lives forgot to give us.
A man builds a house and says,
“I am native now.”
A woman speaks to a tree in place
of her son. And olives come.
A child’s poem says,
“I don’t like wars,
they end up with monuments.”
He’s painting a bird with wings
wide enough to cover two roofs at once.

Why are we so monumentally slow?
Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:
big guns, little pills.
If you tilt your head just slightly
it’s ridiculous.

There’s a place in my brain
where hate won’t grow.
I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.
Something pokes us as we sleep.

It’s late but everything comes next.

© Naomi Shihab Nye



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Candle

Moving

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Story

Gift

- my Muslim grandmother’s words when giving 
a crucifix to my Methodist mother in Tehran


It doesn’t matter that she’s blonde,
doesn’t know a single word of Farsi,
or how to taarof, always refuse first,
before accepting a gift.

 
what you believe is your own trouble;
not one of us understands all the words
of our mother tongue. Look at the eye,
my father told me, watch it speak.


as long as you are here, I will be shelter.


believe in something: your hands pressed
together, palm to palm, are my body folded
into the namaz; each of us maps ourselves
in the mirror, measures what we already know.

© Marjorie Lotfi Gill 

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