Remi Kanazi

A Poem for Gaza

I never knew death
until I saw the bombing
of a refugee camp
craters
filled with
dismembered         legs
and splattered   torsos
but no sign of a face
the only impression
a fading scream

I never understood pain
until a seven-year-old girl
clutched my hand
stared up at me
with soft brown eyes
waiting for answers

I didn’t have any
I had muted breath
and dry pens in my back pocket
that couldn’t fill pages
of understanding or resolution

in her other hand
she held a key
to her grandmother’s house
but I couldn’t unlock the cell
that caged her older brothers
they said:
we slingshot dreams
so the other side
will feel our father’s presence!

a craftsman
built homes in areas
where no one was building

when he fell
silence

a .50 caliber bullet
tore through his neck
shredding his vocal cords
too close to the wall
his hammer
must have been a weapon
he must have been a weapon
encroaching on settlement hills
and demographics

so his daughter
studies mathematics

seven explosions
times
eight bodies
equals
four congressional resolutions

seven Apache helicopters
times
eight Palestinian villages
equals
silence and a second Nakba

our birthrate
minus
their birthrate
equals
one sea and 400 villages re-erected

one state
plus
two peoples
…and she can’t stop crying

never knew revolution
or the proper equation
tears at the paper
with her fingertips
searching for answers
but only has teachers
looks up to the sky
to see Stars of David
demolishing squalor
with Hellfire missiles

she thinks back
words and memories
of his last hug
before he turned and fell
now she pumps
dirty water from wells
while settlements
divide and conquer
and her father’s killer
sits beachfront
with European vernacular

this is our land!, she said
she’s seven years old
this is our land!
she doesn’t need history books
or a schoolroom teacher
she has these walls
this sky
her refugee camp

she doesn’t know the proper equation
but she sees my dry pens
no longer waiting for my answers
just holding her grandmother’s key
searching
for ink
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