PoemsPRIVATE Writers

Tammara Or Slilat | Miscellaneous

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – 2015 Yusef Hawkin’s face is gone and now this child’s face has also been totally erased from the world. I believe her name was Janelle Lynn McCleese, born in 1987 and died in 1990. How did she die? I have imagined that she was hit by a car. The mural lived much longer than she did. Perhaps brevity really is part of the beauty and function of these murals—that their eventual loss further reflects the neighborhood’s demographic changes, the passage of time, the brevity of life. I won’t ever forget Janelle’s face and her lovingly fixed hair. She lives inside all of us who passed by and took notice of her as we walked down Lewis Ave.,-- us, the lucky living, wondrously and briefly animated by life.
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My youngest daughter called from the army,
just returned from an ambush in the desert, this time
they intercepted two men who tried to smuggle Hashish from Egypt.
Listening to her excited voice, I thank the angels she wasn’t posted as the sniper
but carried the com. radio and so didn’t get a chance to shoot
(I don’t dare tell her that).

My new friend called from Tel Aviv,
just returned from a swim in the sea, he’s going
to run half a marathon today, not a competition this time
it’s more a petition to free Gilad Shalit who’s been held captive
for 1160 days and counting, it’s his birthday today. My friend
is a pacifist, we talk of peace, love and good energies
(I don’t dare tell him about my daughter).

Vika is watching noon time cartoons in her pyjamas,
it’s the last day of the summer holiday so I let her, this time.
She came from Ukraine 2 years ago, mother died, father doesn’t want her
in his new family, so she’s staying with me. Her boyfriend is going to be drafted
next week, she’s worried, doesn’t want him to go to a combat unit because
only suckers go to combat units. Enraged, I lash out the full Zionist lecture
of how we wouldn’t have been able to live here, in our own state,
without a strong army to defend us. She should admire
their bravery, be thankful
for their willingness to cope with 3 hard years of service,
possibly even die, all to ensure a safe and calm life for her and her shirker boyfriend
(she doesn’t dare answer me back).

(From PRIVATE 47 – ISREAEL, p. 53

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