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Entry 27: Motherhood in Palestine

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This is Entry 27 in the Mondo Awards end-of-year Inspire-us contest. The author gives her bio at the bottom.

Just because I cannot keep

My child away

From the battlefield

Outside our door


Just because I do not gather

All the stones from the streets

And tear his slings


Just because I am unable

To shield my children from the hail

Of raging bullets

Or lead away from a sniper’s aim


Just because neither I nor my children

Have a choice

But to suffer

And deal with pain in our own way

Depending on what

Today has offered

And tomorrow might bring


Just because you do not see me

Weep for him


Just because I try to greet

Each homecoming

With a measure of pride

And skillfully hide


My aching

You think I do not

Love my child?

I do grieve

Oh, how I grieve

But I try to do so bravely


I still hear

My young son’s voice

Resounding in the air

I feel so proud

My baby dared

To call out loud

For freedom


Those who believe

Themselves to be free

Take freedom for granted at times

Misuse it

Even abuse it


Is the ‘free world’

Truly allowed

To think freely today?


As their media travels

On a single track

Back, back, back


To medieval times

When it was heresy to say

Opposing things

Or think for oneself?


Today it is heresy of a kind

To state simple truths

Such as how and where

My children die


Heresy it would be

To find out why

-Palestinian Mother that I am-

I do not cry


Oh, Palestinian motherhood!

Your pain spans generations

Your new suffering at each juncture


The expansion of Israel


If only people

Could judge for themselves

Unswayed by the lies

Of Israel’s media machine

They would sympathize

With our desperate attempts

To break our confines

And be free!


They would recognize

That my child

Is a reckless hero


Just as theirs would be

If he tried with slingshots

To fight armed gangs

In the back- streets

Of western towns


But here, in this,

Our occupied land

Where we are stripped

Of everything

No present, no future, no dignity

No schools, no jobs, no security


Where our children get blinded

Soldiers aim for young eyes

Where our children get killed

Israel rids itself

Of young Palestinian lives


Where when one hero is down

There always rises


With a sling

To challenge

The mighty military machine


That has made this sacred land

A cemetery


And while all that goes on

Waiting at home

Are the worried, helpless mothers

Battling bereavement in our minds

Every waking moment

Of our lives


But wait

What’s happening outside?

Oh no!


It’s one of my own

This time!

Oh God! This is it

My day has arrived

And this

Is my moment


I let my husband support me

We ignore all the sorrowful faces

And look on as our child

In his white shroud

Is finally laid to rest


With some hesitation

We sprinkle the earth upon him

And suddenly, we both hear it

A friendly whisper from the crowds

Echoed again, out loud


A song of liberation

Transcending space and time

To the beginning of creation


“Your child is finally free…”


How true! Our child is finally free!


And my husband presses my hand

Yes, I know

His darling body is forever

In the best of resting places…

In the ever-loving embrace

Of Motherland.

The author states: As a young Syrian girl, travelling the world with my Diplomat parents, I’d felt protected… until I witnessed the two wars of 1967 and 1973. Diving into the basement did not save our neighbors from the Israeli warplanes which flattened their building and many others … while the bomb which landed in our garden failed to explode. As we stood that day by order of the bomb-squad at the secure perimeter they’d set up, looking, perhaps for the last time, at our home in Damascus, I realized the existence of another world which I felt guiltily-fortunate not to inhabit: The world of a Palestinian. I realized that nothing can compare to the suffering of valiant people, struggling every moment to live- and die- in their homeland. And I began voicing their pain: The pain of young boys and girls, of fathers and mothers.. of the elderly and the dying.. even the pain of their keys, who now have no owner and no home.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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