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A Poem For A Palestinian Poet
written by: Lali Tsipi Michaeli
translated by: Maayan Eitan
I serve you my poem like a piece of bloody flesh from the brink of my torn body.
Midnight between us marks a line.
You argue “I am from here” and ask me
Where are you from? Where are you from?
Don’t you live on my land
Wind carries away my years of noise in this beast of a country
that leads my feet to walk in this world, washing me
from the breast of mother earth.
Me? Do you want to know where I’m from?
I’m from here.
Yes, I have been here for generations. From the dusty royal history I’m from here.
When my brothers are executed everywhere around the globe
Do you know the history?
Do you know what was here before you stepped on this earth?
Before your grandfather plowed this land?
You say that your lands were stolen. That’s right, they were. And on a human level I’m sorry
I hurt and I understand your wound. But forgive me
because I am haunted and I’m asking to return to my safe land.
I am a Jew. This is my only country.
As I wandered far and away I was persecuted by another nation, another religion.
I walked with my certainty severed, my land decapitated.
This might be your motherland, but mine are the water, the dust, the rock and sandstone for 5000 years.
Here I was marked. Here my fate was decided for generations. I was banished from here. Prayed for this place. Longed.
I hid my identity in exile in order to save myself. To reconnect with the mob of the people that remained for me.
This is where my visa was issued to, where the Soviet Union said to me for years “Niet”.
And anyway, I share with you your sorrow. It is mine too.
How did you sleep? You ask me in a WhatsApp right before morning. Before the sun yawned.
My dream has traveled the world. It crossed oceans, wadis and vineyards. Jumped over walls, contracts and shreds of war. Unforgiveness speaks in many foreign languages. Only love had one language.
I too am chased by shadows. I too am a victim wearing the mask of the victor.
Write, poet! Write everything!
I spill my tears into your ink and with your tears I punctuate my writing.
Poetry is the only autonomy left in a darkening world.
The only bit of freedom. The only place. The only redeeming. Though you don’t acknowledge salvation.
You are an anarchist after all, believing in the scarred hand and mostly in love.
Willing to meet me even if historically I am your enemy.
How do you sleep, my friend?
Did you eat?
What are you doing now?
And what are you?
I’m playing the piano, look
I’m playing the flute, listen