Friday, July 28, 2006

Women in Black

Women in Black, copyright Alan Pogue 2001

These members of Bat Shalom, an Israeli women's peace organization
nominated for the 2001 Nobel Prize for Peace, maintain a Women in Black
vigil in West Jerusalem. There are peace movements in Israel and in Palestine.
The Rapprochement Center does nonviolent resistance training.
There are Israeli soldiers who have gone to prison rather than se
in the occupied territories. There is a Israeli group called Yesh Gvul
composed of active military, retired military and conscientious objectors

who maintain there can be no peace until the occupation of Palestine is over.
(Alan Pogue)

Press Your Face Against the Sky

climb out of the creek and press my face against the sky,
stretch out on limestone warmer than the air. Light
drops points of heat into my pores.
Small drops of water linger
just a moment.

On sunny days it’s warmer next to the creek than uphill,
in traffic, where the wind blows, where a human

appetite for power pushes us
to war after war.

On cold days I spread papers in the sun room where light
pours through long panes of glass until my work
space is static with dry heat. Cats wait
for me on a table splashed
with light.

I need juice —

for my computers, heat, air conditioning, don’t care
to wash my clothes along the river’s edge.
I like to plug things into power jacks.
Energy isn’t bad. I like cars too.
Today I stood with the Women in Black in front of the Capitol.
There was a slight chill in the breeze, but sunlight quickly
soaked through my dark clothing,

warming arms and back,
turning my long hair into a blanket.

We stood in front of the capitol because we want the world
to turn away from war. We want America to think
differently, act differently. We want
the occupation of Palestine
to end.

My father and grandfather were oil men whose business was
to make energy available to a society ravenous for it.
And we’ve grown hungrier still, so hungry that
two civilizations careen to war.

911 has pushed the world to a recession.
Business responds with massive layoffs and we spin further
down into depression —

We need a million jobs —

about what it would take to change world gears from carbon to light.
Invention waits for the right moment.

Press your face against the sky.

©Susan Bright, 2001


First a prayer, then bread, a sip of wine, cold gazpacho
with croutons made from homemade bread soaked in butter,
herbs. Virginia passes a platter of dates so delicious
I say I should have taken twelve instead of one

so she brings back the tray, and everyone takes more,
then squash casserole, baked chicken in mushroom sauce,
hummus and flat bread, olives and more olives,
another prayer, because this is a Shabbat, a song,
a dance, a community circle. The Jewish women
have arranged supper for women travelling to Palestine.

We practice speaking Arabic. Carole will bring back poems.
Everyone names a gift for the delegation. We send love
and hope, endurance, patience for listening, open minds,
courage, invention. We give donations to defray the cost.

Patrice, who has sold her car to raise money for the trip,
is at another fund-raiser. Joni talks about how she resisted
the trip at first, how it became a deep necessity.

I ask Lourdes, whose music is legend, if she will sing
or perform in Palestine. She says perhaps not
because mourning is not a time in Palestine for song.
I ask Annette what she fears the most. Her answer
reaches deep into the fabric of our world. She says,

If we are killed or harmed (even if by accident)
by the people living under occupation, it could
be used out of context to justify more atrocity.
She says,
A greater fear is that the ethnic cleansing
of Palestinians will not be stopped, that the entire region

will be destroyed. That is more important
one person’s life.
Friends bring huge plates
of baklava, which no one can resist, and marzipan.
I ask Annette what she is most confident about.

She says, The understanding that occurs when women
speak to one another, from that peace can be born, I trust it.
I say,
We will not allow the work to be corrupted,
and long for a global community supper,
plenty for everyone, no nationalites, just human beings
living in harmony. Virginia mingles in the crowd
carrying an oval basket of gigantic red grapes, succulent
and abundant, like
the vision of peace women

offer to the world with their lives.

©Susan Bright, 2001

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

*Poems and photographs from The Layers of Our Seeing by Susan Bright, Muna Hamzeh and Alan Pogue. Plain View Press, 2001. Presently in it's 4 edition, this collection grows as the world it mirrors changes. Each print run is different.

Phoenix Jabber, Alan Pogue, 1998, Hebron

Atta Jabber's oldest child stands on the ruins of a Jabber home. It has become one of the more than three thousand Palestinian homes which have been destroyed by the Israeli military occupation forces. No Palestinian can build or make a home improvement without the permission of the Israeli military courts. They are not likely to give permission. Even a passive rain water collector is not allowed. Digging a well is not even considered since the Israelis control water use in Palestinian territory. Palestinian families grow but their homes may not be expanded.

The Israeli government hopes to quietly force thousands of Palestinians off their land this way under the cover of a facade of legality. This leads to frustration and hopelessness among the Palestinians. Air and water are squeezed out of them. Even so Atta's daughter wears a "Peace Camp 95" tee shirt she received while attending a camp for Israeli and Palestinian children whose parents wished to foster mutual understanding and epaveful relations. Voices for peace must be fostered rather than ignored, as they are in the U. S. media. (Alan Pogue)


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