The girl stood, faced upturned to the dark, leaking sky. The orange street light turned her olive skin copper. Above her in the tree a robin, sodium-copper-breasted, showered liquid notes, more than a match for the thin drizzle. Her lips pursed, she whistled: blew, inflated, floated back each phrase to the listening bird.
If there’s a soul, then, I wonder
where it might sit?
I picture a yellow canary flitting
anxiously from perch to perch as
its cage travels deeper into the mine.
I picture the trees our primate bodies
evolved to navigate, their ladders,
their heartwood neither alive
nor clearly dead. I remember
the blossoming branches of a wild
sweet cherry tree one spring,
after an ice storm had toppled it
& a chainsaw had severed the trunk
from the tangle of roots and soil.
Even decapitated, it bloomed with abandon,
it bloomed as if there were no tomorrow:
clouds of white against the brown woods.
My child: “When I ran through the park to school this morning I imagined that the whole world was 2D. It was like running through the pages of a giant pop-up book full of flat trees.”
As I cracked open the pomegranate, marveling at the glistening rubies inside, I thought about the way it’s bad luck to drop and forget any seeds – you have to eat them all. And then – the mind is odd this way – each seed suddenly became a child, and I thought about all the children of Gaza, and then children throughout the world, so much more precious than any of nature’s jewels. I looked at my hands, splattered with red: how blind and bloodstained we are.
A group of pupils from the local school hang around on the street corner. Normal, but not normal. No laughing, shouting, jostling. Quiet and still. They wear badges of the Palestinian flag on their uniform. Their uniform is black.
The number of Palestinians killed since the Israeli Defence Force action began is over 800. Approximately one third of these deaths are children. From 60 child deaths in the first eight days of aerial bombardment, the number of children who have been killed now numbers in excess of 260.
I walk home with a child holding my hand. His thumb is, as usual, thrust aslant the underside of my wrist across vein and artery, pulse to pulse, snug under the coils of my mala. He asks, worried, his hand gripping tighter, why I am weeping.
I have no answer. I have no words.