A Poem for Gaza

12-30-08, 9:43 am

I never knew death until I saw the bombing of a refugee camp Craters filled with disfigured ankles and splattered torsos But no sign of a face, the only impression a fading scream I never understood pain Until a seven-year-old girl clutched my hand Stared up at me with soft brown eyes, waiting for answers But I didn't have any I had muted breath and dry pens in my back pocket That couldn't fill pages of understanding or resolution

In her other hand she held the key to her grandmother's house But I couldn't unlock the cell that caged her older brothers They said, we slingshot dreams so the other side will feel our father's presence A craftsman Built homes in areas where no one was building And when he fell, he was silent A .50 caliber bullet tore through his neck shredding his vocal cords Too close to the wall His hammer must have been a weapon He must have been a weapon Encroaching on settlement hills and demographics

So his daughter studies mathematics Seven explosions times eight bodies Equals four Congressional resolutions Seven Apache helicopters times eight Palestinian villages Equals silence and a second Nakba Our birthrate minus their birthrate Equals one sea and 400 villages re-erected One state plus two peoples…and she can't stop crying Never knew revolution or the proper equation Tears at the paper with her fingertips Searching for answers But only has teachers Looks up to the sky and see stars of David demolishing squalor with hellfire missiles

She thinks back words and memories of his last hug before he turned and fell Now she pumps dirty water from wells, while settlements divide and conquer And her father's killer sits beachfront with European vernacular She thinks back words, while they think backwards Of obscene notions and indigenous confusion

This our land!, she said She's seven years old This our land!, she said And she doesn't need a history book or a schoolroom teacher She has these walls, this sky, her refugee camp She doesn't know the proper equation But she sees my dry pens No longer waiting for my answers Just holding her grandmother's key…searching for ink

--Remi Kanazi is the editor of the recently released collection of poetry, spoken word, hip hop and art, Poets For Palestine.