Sunday, February 25, 2007



Along the Tigris River, where the city of Mosul is today, Abraham’s children searched for water, but the desert people fought with them or filled the wells with sand. For many years it went like that—Abraham’s children finding water, the desert people taking back their own, until one day a well was dug and no one noticed, or cared. Isaac dug a well and named the land Rehoboth, place of peace. He said his people would stay there and plant. He said the land would bear great bounty, enough for everyone. And so the people lived to dream in peace of staircases leading up to heaven, lined with Ziegfeld angels. Jacob lay his head down on a stone that turned into Bathsheba which turned into something else. And Rehoboth which seemed like eternal peace was in fact more like the peak on one rise of a roller coaster that hadn’t been invented yet. When Grandmother inherited the farm, three hundred years after the Indians had been banished from land they knew was their mother, it was already called Rehoboth, place of peace. And for a time it was a place of prosperity. Each generation added structures and then graves. The Cure brothers, children of the first John Cure, built the old barn, which is still standing, although the cabin is gone. They built a church and the small outbuilding next to it which became a library my grandmother called Rehoboth Storybook House. She hosted children’s hours and concerts. Neighbors and family members played hymns and sang popular songs. My father was Thomas Jefferson in a play Grandmother wrote about freedom from racism, players calling to each other at the top of their lungs in a makeshift amphitheater, outdoors in the spring, to raise money for scholarships, children to be educated from the bounty of a place in the Allegheny Mountains where two roads met. Rehoboth was to be a retreat, an art school but the land slid out from under her children, in spite of the fact that they baked great holiday feasts, cracked jokes, told stories and filled concert halls in Pennsylvania and Up/State/NewYork with the songs of a thousand musicians. Rehoboth is fresh painted white and empty now, one instant in a fast carnival of intersections and highways, art and being smashed into great waves of howling feedback.

from House of the Mother, by © Susan Bright, 1994.

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.

* Image from -- a slow loading montage of war scenes from Mosul.

And you can listen to Tony Blair's greatest hit here. It's getting lots of hits today, so it may take a few minutes to load. Fun tho.


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Blogger SB said...

It is as if the ground truth, here and now, about the Middle East has been waiting for me -- for us -- all our lives.

This poem which I wrote in 1994 is another eery connection. In a few days I'll post a poem about the first poet in history -- a woman -- from Iraq who wrote against empire and vioence. Enheduenna.

For now, I hope our readers have time to listen to the Tony Blair spoof. It's loading faster now, and -- well, we need some comic relief.


4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tony blair piece is way rocking.
thanks. SP

5:45 PM  

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