Wednesday, 28 January 2015

For Abdul Odim, Mayor of Qusra

October's harvest finds him between planted rows of olives
keeping one eye on his work and one on the hills
that's where the trouble comes from
But today I find him in a cold, grey office
typing on a keyboard too small for his cracked and swollen farmer's hands
a reluctant mayor of a crumbling West Bank village
His dank office is filled with photographs - gruesome, faded pictures of twisted, bruised faces
broken limbs and spirits.
These photographs, dog-eared from holding, tell stories of his townsfolk, his loved ones
crushed by a machine that must oppress and destroy
and feed on the souls of the vulnerable to grow
it eats rocks and bullets and unbridled hatred
turns them into fuel
into tools to justify its violent course
Pictures sit around his desk like a shrine with sad and swollen watching eyes
reminding him of his failure. Reminding him of his duty
reminding him. Reminding
Always reminding.

Settlers charge through the mayor's village one day, screaming
our roots run deeper than these olive trees!
they saw the ancient, twisted growths off at the base
so nothing would be taller than they, when their feet rooted into the grey, stony earth
They shoot their weapons and hurl their insults, as zealots do
they roll burning tires into the mosque, like fiery prayers with suffocating incense
but they are not prayers to the mayor's God
the mayor's God lives in the tilled soil, the cut olive trees, the cracks in his hands
the mayor's God sings with rain and fills the hillsides with poppies

The reluctant mayor wipes cement dust from his old boots
he'd been laying a floor in the widow's barn, hoping it would set before the rains came
I'm a builder, he thinks. A farmer. A husband and father
my work is in the soil. Not a war
but planting fields is political around here
With his trimmed moustache and strong, pointed nose, he reminds me of a hawk
tired, grey-rimmed eyes gazing down upon a shattered landscape. A shrinking map
above, day-blind stars scatter endlessly beyond the reach of his wings
A caged hawk. Caged by abstruse power, chained to the stones of his field
chained to the photographs that decorate his office wall
burnt forever under his eyelids, a harsh reminder - that all is not well in this place
a reminder to never forget those sad, swollen eyes. Broken limbs and spirits
Reminding him. Reminding
always reminding.

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