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[For Gaza’s children]

     My father’s warm palms shielded my ears. I could hear his blood racing in his veins. As if being chased by the bombs falling outside. My mother’s lips fluttered like a terrified butterfly. She was talking to God and asking him to protect us. That’s what she did during the last war. And he listened. Her arms were clasped around my two sisters. Maybe God could not hear her this time. The bombing was so loud. After our house in Jabalia was destroyed we hid in the UNRWA school. But the bombs followed us there too . . .

     and found us.


     Mother and father lied
     We didn’t stay together 
     I walked alone for hours
     They lied 
     There are no angels 
     Just people walking 
     Many of them children 
     The teacher lied too 
     My wounds didn’t become anemones 
     like that poem we learnt in school says 


     Sidu didn’t lie
     He was there
     Just as he’d promised me 
     before he died
     He is here
     I found him
     Leaning on his cane
     Thinking of Jaffa
     When he saw me
     He spread his arms wide
     Like an eagle
     A tired eagle with a cane
     We hugged
     He kissed my eyes


     —Are we going back to Jaffa, sidu?
     —We can’t
     —We are dead
     —So are we in heaven, sidu?
     —We are in Palestine habibi
     and Palestine is heaven
     . . .
     and hell
     —What will we do now?
     —We will wait
     —Wait for what?
     —For the others
     . . .
     to return