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Jerusalem

      “Let’s be the same wound if we must bleed.

      Let’s fight side by side, even if the enemy

      is ourselves: lam 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 doorwaywelcomes 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.

from Red SuitcaseFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1994
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Naomi Shihab Nye Poems

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