(To the old woman in Jerusalem, who lost everything.)
By George Polley
Why did these men in black steal my house
with all my things in it, saying my house is
theirs, that it belonged to their family before
it belonged to mine? How could that be, as
my great-grandfather Hamid built it, lay
the foundation by hand, then stone by stone
before any of these European Jews appeared
claiming that Palestine was their ancestral home.
And why all my things, family photos, dishes,
everything? “Because they belong with the house”
the man with the beard replied. Then he told me
to leave and not come back or I could be arrested.
Arrested? Why? Because the police are their friends,
and this is their neighborhood, too. More and more,
these people are settling in East Jerusalem.
She sighs, thinking “I have neither clothing nor food,
because they’ve taken everything. Where will I go?
To my daughter’s or my son’s? I’ll go to my son Hatim’s,
who has room and some of my clothes, ones that
I wear when I’m visiting. It will be wonderful seeing
my grandchildren and my son’s wife. “How could
these men be so cruel?” she asked. “It’s happening
everywhere, Mother, this stealing of property, as these
Jews plan to live in everything that’s liveable, no matter
what they must to do obtain it. Two days ago it was
Abdul’s house, yesterday a Jewish family moved into
Yusuf’s. When he complained to the police, the officer
beat him up.” She looked at her son with tears streaming
down her face, knowing enough to know that the
government would do nothing. After all, they want all
Palestinians to leave, so they can have the whole of
Jerusalem, making it their city alone. The question
“Why?” still lingered, as it would do for the rest of her life.
The answer is a simple one: It is easy to do what these
three men did if we see others as standing in our way, and
exclude them when we want to, shrugging our lack of care.
– George Polley is a novelist and a poet. He is the author of The Old Man and The Monkey, Grandfather and The Raven, Bear, and, most recently “The City Has Many Faces“. He contributed this poem to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit his blog.