Poem to My Palestinian Neighbor
by Steven Paul Greenberg
Inspired by Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi
The sharp scent of frozen pine needles is chilled by an undisturbed dusting of Vermont snow,
like freezer burn on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
The wind hums softly and grazes through the gaps of my woven wool cap
handknit by my girlfriend for Hanukkah.
Perhaps yours was knit by Sitty for Eid ul Adha?
Our wind was made from missiles, exploding in your home, carried across the Atlantic
from Gaza to my backyard where the air is light, without the weight of dust
suffocating your streets and alleyways like the scarred hands of militants
unwilling to let us live together, pray together, or even play like children.
Perhaps we can trade tallits and turbans for a common cloth?
As I hike, the cap droops along my brow, just enough to block the sun’s sheen
connecting strands of light from my Haystack to the Mediterranean shores of your Strip.
Does the sun’s warmth from my Yahweh, your Allah, cast only on these lonely Vermont hills?
No. It touches the tips of the West Bank, pulling us together, like
a mother, toting her children, one in each hand
—strands from the same wool.
Notes: “Sitty” is the Palestinian-Arabic word for Grandmother; “Eid ul Adha” is a celebratory, holy Islamic holiday; “Strip” refers to the Gaza Strip; “Tallit” is the Jewish prayer shawl; “Turban” is the traditional Islamic head garb.