Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths




DeLana Dameron

DeLana Dameron

Military governor refuses to hand over body

She says                                                                          He says

Israel has taken my child.                                               I serve the lands of Israel.
Errant bullets found Raeda's                                          Sometimes service is an error
body, a birthday present                                                 aiming at the indistinguishable bodies
for my eight year old girl.                                               shadows shifting forms—
Palestine mourns. I am told to                                        people who steal away to Palestine.
wait before I can carry her home.                                   I told the girl to wait.

Waiting to bring the mangled                                        At checkpoints you must wait
body of your only girl home in                                      to enter. So many bodies
Palestine is hard when                                                   Meshed together. Thousand Palestinians
Israel won't allow stays and you're                                traveling in and out of Israel
forced to walk those miles, run                                      corralled into fences, forced
errands, must find passports, IDs, disprove                   into lines, so it's simple to see the error

error— prove that Raeda was just a                              in the situation. The error
Palestinian girl caught in Palestinian                             of my shot meant for a different Palestinian
Israel. Now I must look at the dead                              who disturbed the peace of Israel.
bodies to find my little girl, must                                   I am told to shoot any body
wait and try to                                                               that may pose a threat. I cannot wait
force the military governor to give me Raeda.              until they attack with force.

For seven days my soles scraped                                  It's hard to pick out your target from the fort.
Israel, walking daily dodging more                              I stand on the Wall that protects Israel
errant bullets from soldier's guns aimed at                    from rebel invaders. Sure there are errant
Palestinians like me who cross over,                            fires. Sometimes innocent Palestinians
wait until the military governor releases her                 are killed. And now the mother waits
body. I could not recognize Raeda's                             in our office to reclaim her daughter's body.

body when I held her, after the long                             I didn't recognize the body
wait. Her delicate skin wilted, discolored                     of this little girl who refused to wait
from mal-care, they never removed the                        as commanded. I could tell from
errant bullet lodged in her chest.                                   the screams that my shot was in error.
Israelis call this protection.                                           Now I'm reprimanded by other Israeli
Palestinians they say pose threats, they shoot               Soldiers. I say: so many Palestinians

Palestinian girls, then keep                                            trying to force their way back to Palestine
bodies in fear of retribution                                           seemed threatening, so you aim at the body
for the consequences of                                                the threat, demand compliance with force
errant shots in child bodies. We                                    close your eyes and pray no shots are errant.
wait for peace, for recognition in;                                 Now we have to tell her she must wait.
Israel.                                                                            We don't want more violence in Israel.

I carry Raeda's body from Israel.                                  She had to wait seven days in Israel.
Suture wound of errant fire and wait                             I will not be convicted of error. For
for her burial in Palestine. She'll return home.               peace, we handed over the Palestinian body.

Palestine picture #1

And now dawn sprawls across my face.
Onyx stones for eyes are silenced by dust.
Somewhere a child must mourn the loss of me,
crave my feathered weight held against their breast,
wish to wipe my charcoal-colored skin clean.
Perhaps, you ask, whose hands have placed me here?
Whose hands cradled my long ears and fed me
pretend carrots, thought my being holy?
I lay encapsulated in broken
brick mausoleum, nestled between glass
shards that glisten about me like jewels.
One arm burst open, cotton innards
exposed. My other arm is stretched in emptiness.
Hold me. What joy there is in hands once more.

Palestine picture #2

           For baby Majzara

I searched for your mother amidst rubble,
found her several meters away from you.
Please forgive me for leaving you behind.
I came back, like the evening stars at dusk.
They had you in a plastic bag atop
the ruins, placed you as if a shrine. Your
skin reddened by exposure to too much
sun. Majzara, I laid you on a bed
of jasmine, pulled placenta from your eyes
still accustomed to the dark and the damp
of womb. Daughter, had you lived past the bomb,
I would have loved to witness you in life:
capturing the air in your chest as breath,
hearing words dancing off your tongue as song.

Mercantilism in Gaza

I can't eat olives anymore.
They all must go to the market.
Baba says they must go,
so we can eat.

Our olives go to the market.
I want to taste the olives we pick,
so we can eat again.
In our groves, only once

have I tasted the olives we pick.
Baba got mad and called me greedy.
In our groves, once
we harvest, we must buy our olives at the market.

Baba is mad. I become greedy
because I don’t want to give our olives away.
We harvest what we have; buy at the market.
We eat our work by selling our work.

I don’t like to give our olives away.
Baba says they must go.
We sell our work, cannot eat our work.
I can't eat our olives anymore.