Wednesday, April 23, 2003

second revision: actually, this one many of you have not seen before:

I miss Israel
I said it)

A beach at the end
of every bus ride, the attendant
anxiety sweeter than salt-

water: getting there alive,
the relief would make me buoyant
and prone to burns.

In Jerusalem, I scribbled every word
the puffing, pacing mayor
said, and,

on a different page, the
angry-tired Palestinian, Youssef:
Your independence,

my catastrophe. I was so innocent,
I was surprised. this was 2000,
things were good then,

hopeful. when I was up North, an Arab
family gestured me onto their porch
for nuts

with everything to say to each other
and no shared tongue, we smiled
awkwardly and ate.

back on kibbutz, no one read newspapers.
I used them to clean mirrors
in hadar ochel bathrooms (my first taste

of a blue collar). people who walked by
nodded �hi,� respectful;
I could be their daughter

everyone took turns doing
this kind of work. still, the political void
rang in my ears until relieved

by a visit to cousins in Tel Aviv
The government dissolved again (they
sighed) Well,

every Tuesday and Thursday.
they fed me, walked me, even dug up
Shabbes candles so I�d feel

at home. See,
I did feel at home, especially on Fridays,
when busses stopped. Religious families

bundled to Shul and Seculars
hit the beach. I�m not observant
but it was spiritual:

dining out on Passover,
hearing Hebrew, sleeping in the desert,
just walking

through the sky-blue city
of S�fad. could you live here?
my friends asked each other.

not until Peace, we said, but felt
on the precipice of it, assumed it could happen
any day. two years later

escaping college, I spent
the spring in Denmark, the country
I knew from Number the Stars

No one carried guns, not even
cops in Copenhagen: even some of
the prisons had no walls

I trekked to classes over cobblestones,
passing pastel buildings,
hot-dog vendors, falafel stands, and

Palestinian protests in halting Danish
to halting Danes: flags and the word
Hitler I recognized: but by then, I�d seen it all

before, shuffled through a gauntlet
of police the only time I tried the city�s
only synagogue, handed my passport

to the guard at the gate and answered
his questions as flashbulbs popped:
over two years, I�d learned

the limit to how Left I could go
if I couldn�t let go of what I�d left behind me,
always planning to go back.

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