Behind the Wall

Behind the Wall


My grandfather died as they drove him into this prison


My father died digging out of this place, going underneath the wall


My brother was shot as a keffiyeh covered his face


My mother cried as a baby, squalling to never know her father


My mother cried the howling of a widow

Her husband taking his last breath as I took my first

Her shatweh jangled, heard over the shouts of anger and despair


The tear gas came into the crowd

Eyes burning, lungs gasping futilely

I stood next to my mother, I was not older than a boy


As we made our escape her hand became limp in mine

The side of my head is covered with hot

With wet

With clinging matter

My mother falls, her face destroyed

Her shatweh rings no more


I stand alone

Silent to the screams of the angry

Of the maimed

I was deaf to the flapping of the banners and our proud flag


They stand in a line in front of me

Helmets protect them

Armor protects them

Shields protect them

Batons and guns protect them

Making them an immoveable force

I see them as a wall. The wall that has defined us

Surrounded us


I am dead

I stand in a moth eaten t-shirt, jeans kept up with a belt made of rope

No socks and sneakers a size too large

I was to grow into them

I barely had hair on my face but I stood


They moved forward and I moved forward

Other braver men backed away from this eighty year wall

I wasn’t brave I was dead

There was nothing left for me, left of me

I moved forward and their shouts became directed at me

I did not raise my hand

I did not yell

I walked with the freedom only death can bring

My people had not been free in my lifetime, my father’s lifetime

Only my grandfather tasted freedom before the wall

A brief taste in his childhood, younger than me


The first baton hit me on my left temple

The blow cut me open, blood leaking already into my eye

I stumbled but I stood

The next blow came from a shield straight into my face

My nose and jaw shattered

My teeth flew with blood from my mouth


This time I went to my knees

The front of my shirt soaked with blood

I held my head high

And the batons came crashing down

One after another after another after another

I was such a threat to their great land

Soon the blood disappeared from my eye

And I only saw darkness


I saw my mother again, dressed as if it was her wedding day

A smile for me

I saw my brother again, his keffiyeh no longer hiding his face

A smile for me

I saw a young man, straight of back and freshly groomed

A smile for me, his son; a smile for my mother, his wife

I saw an older man, not an old man

Not a defeated man

And he had smiles for us all


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