Palestine Verses 2016 – 3rd Place: Thirst fugue by Barbara Cumbers

palestine verses

Thirst fugue

after “Todesfuge” by Paul Celan

They hold the land in the dust of our houses
as dusk falls they bring out ancestral maps
and command that we follow their lines on the land
they command that we wait at their checkpoints
they heft our worth in the steel at their belts
they trap thirst in the iron of their gates

A man farms the land you once owned Khadija
he waters your mulberry tree from clear pools
he herds us in rubble makes dust of the wells
remember the clear pools Ibrahim
thirst is a settler in Palestine he takes and he takes
he stands at his checkpoints with iron
he commands that we wait in the hot sun

A man studies old maps in the strength of his house
he sets lines on the land he builds walls around water
he covers our crops with ashes    your mulberry tree Khadija
he pipes the rain to his houses thirst is a settler in Palestine
he daydreams of Zion he strips us at checkpoints
he commands that we wait he commands he commands
that we walk for our water    your clear pools Ibrahim

We dig graves in the dust of our houses
thirst is a settler in Palestine he shatters our wells
he shuts gates at checkpoints he takes and he takes
he lives in a strong house with his tanks as dusk falls
he makes us wait as he daydreams in iron he herds us in rubble
thirst is a settler in Palestine

your mulberry tree Khadija
your clear pools Ibrahim

—————————————-

This poem has been previously published in A
Gap in the Rain
 (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2015)

 

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