In the seventies I went into Sherut La’am, a Peace Corps program in Israel. It was one of those years that shaped my life, and became a lifetime obsession (I have a few). For three months I lived in the city of Nazareth, where I learned how intensely connected Jews and Arabs are.
Yesterday morning I tried to write a poem
About bombings, about synagogues and mosques
what it means that people bomb one another
when they’re praying and when they’re not
praying how some people actually think one life
matters more than another a life is a life
whatever you believe. Nothing I wrote was a poem
none of the words cried out none of them sang
I wrote anger and sadness and it sounded
Like an unfortunate speech not a poem, like
One of those plays you want to leave because
Someone’s standing there giving you a very long
Lecture, When I’m angry I don’t know what to say.
Hope more my vocabulary. Sometimes I wonder
Why I know for sure it’s there.
Author’s Note: Some years ago when we were both teaching at Parsons School of Design, Matthew Septimus and I decided to collaborate. Our intention was to capture holy people and holy places, all that transcended the ordinary, with his pictures and my words. Over the years we began to consider our project as a kind of prayer, how prayers would be if they were pictures and poems. This is one of an eight-part series titled Postcards for Hanukkah.