If Stones Could Talk12.24.2007 :: Middle East
Then came the Romans and the Hellenized Jews put me in a flower garden where they drank wine and expounded on the virtues of the Stoics and ridiculed the Tribal tales of their elders and the bearded Rabbis.
When the Macabees rose and ransacked the homes and gardens of the Philo-Hellenes, I became a wall in the fortress of Masada laid to ruins in the Final Battle.
I became a stone in the barren fields for several centuries till some monks and holy hermits made me part of a monastery…the outhouse to be precise.
And though I looked out on a fresh spring and an orchard of olives trees and almond blossoms, the smell of defecating Holy Men left me reeling.
So I was glad with the conquest and re-conquests – Muslim Arabs, Ottomans and Crusaders – by turn a mosque, a church, as sacred as a holy relic and as profane as a urinal.
But to my regret I returned to the scrabble of the empty fields as the holy places were demolished.
Centuries later I was scrubbed and served, at last, a worthy purpose: for kneading dough and baking flat bread.
The sheep grazed in my shadow and the children chased each other round me, while a mischievous rooster roused the folks out of their slumber using me as a platform to announce the coming dawn.
Then came the time of bullets chipping and flaking my outer skin, the Ottomans fled but I remained solidly implanted though now no longer employed but rather a sitting place of laughing children and grandmothers retelling tales of wise men and wizards, the small brown feet beating time to music and song did me no harm.
Came the time of the Catastrophe the bullets rang and the blood ran
And the children’s grandmothers fled.
The houses were sacked, the olive trees were felled, but I was not harmed.
I remained a stone, smoothed by generations of storytellers and their listeners.
Around me only weeds and thistles grew,
Fertilized by the defecations of the conquering army of Jewish Liberation.
From afar I saw the fires burning villages on one side,
And the gardens and houses, tiles and pools of water on the other.
I was not alone nor for long as asphalt soon paved the roads to and
From the Jews Only townships – cobblestones were cleared and piled around me.
I wondered to what purpose?
Some rustic setting in an open-air restaurant in Tel Aviv serving olives and cheese,
But not from the burnt stumps of the olive trees nor from the skulls and bones of lambs slaughtered during their Liberation.
Solitary in the blazing sun
By the barren road sat I till one day the barefoot brown foot boys,
shod now in adolescent shoes, returned and throwing stones
at the cars whizzing by on the asphalt highway, hid behind my back
as the bullets bounced off my granite hide.
Saved I a life or two or maybe just for a minute or an hour?
The armored carriers came and buried the wounded and the dead
In a common grave.
I didn’t even serve as a tombstone (maybe later – much later)
A memorial, monument to the barefoot boys and girls who fell.
And now I have become part of a wall
A gigantic ghetto wall, crowned with barb-wire
Slashing meadows and scarring fields with the dead trunks of orange trees.
One day I lost my shady solitude. I was loaded into a truck
And became what I am…a prison wall.
I have lost my grace, denatured and disputed:
But most of all torn from a place of affection to a place of desolation.
I am told it depends on which side you look.
By my backside stand the hanging gardens and lawns and luxury flats
Of a Chosen People
According to their Holy Writ.
In front the face of the dispossessed living in memories of their distant nation
While their children no longer hear stories of wizards and wise men
But of resistance fighters and martyrs and visions of a nation without walls
And with them my hope that when the wall comes down
I will return to my shady solitude.
December 24, 2007