Sunrise in Susiya (a poem)
I woke in the middle of the night laughing
from fear of a dog or a coyote or a ghoul
that wandered by my head snuffling
and grumbling and my god the stars!
And then The Orders
crawled into my mind
and I thought:
But the people would be so cold
Without their homes.
And I thought:
Who would want to demolish
A jungle gym.
And I think and think my thoughts are tangles
of smoke. The Orders surround the village
like pillars of dust and sand swirling
into the sky sourced by some unseen
force, by a cruelty that need not look
into the faces of its consequence.
Shooting stars, Musab told me, as we gathered
rocks into buckets made of tires so as
to make the Bir el-Eid road be more bearable,
are God blasting the demons from the sky
so we can sleep.
The wild symphony of snorting
goats and the nasal bleat of a young man
stubbled and snoring next to me.
We were all sunned and satiated
and stunned, around the fire
the men and boys of the village got up
to do a dance to the music shronkling
out of the car’s stereo. Dabka, I murmured,
as my fingers walked along the ridges
of my love’s palm and she nodded
but their circle never broke into a line
they just stood around the fire, bobbing
their knees, grinning and clapping off
rhythm and laughing shyly until Sho
from our group got up to join them
Bending his knees and bobbing in perfect
rhythm to the dance’s imperfect rhythm.
O God Who Bops the Demons
Bless this car’s stereo that it’s crinkly hymns
May grace the face of this desert forever
O God Who Lets the Rooster Crow All Night
Bless the hands of the Order Writers that they may
forget goddam all of their cunning and instead write love
poems to Susiya, letters of apology to Bir el-Eid
to Um al-Kheir.
Sonnets of sorrow and gentleness.
Bless little Hamudi who chased a rabbit into the hills
Laughing and Isaac who was worried that Hamudi would
be hurt, not by circumstance,
but by people
who would hurt
the little Hamudis out there.
Accept our prayers although we are
but dust and Twitter accounts and overeager smiles.
You must have felt the holiness of our Kabbalat Shabbat
prayed on Palestinian Susiya’s rocks, wielded not as a weapon
Against the Palestinian Susiyans
but with their blessing.
A timid and aching rebuke echoing off the walls of settlement
smugly snuggled into the hill, whose residents are much like us
and who we might much like (if we didn’t talk Susiyas).
You’re not Jews, though, right, Musab said.
We are Jews, I said in Arabic.
And he kicked a rock and then grinned
OK, you are Jews.
Later, he friended me on Facebook.
The sun rises in Susiya
As it does every morning.
But this is the first time
I am here to see it cresting
over the village.
And the Olive Trees
And Hives of Bees
And Hillsides Made of Stone
And the Bobbing Knees
And the Cups of Teas
Know that you aren’t alone,
*Photo by A. Daniel Roth. For more photos and reflections on All That’s Left’s weekend in Susiya & the South Hebron Hills, go to All That’s Left’s Facebook page (and follow All That’s Left’s new blog), and read this piece by Sophie Schor and this one by +972 Magazine’s Michael Schaeffer Omer Man written in the lead up to the action.