And That Mysterious Word Holy

You might as well take a rotten lemon,
squeeze it in your hand.
Let the juice trickle down your wrist and arm,
sharp bite of acidity prickling your
scratches and scars and say,
I bow down to you.
When the almond tree erupts into
blossom without help from any people—
I bow down. Here we are in the land
of sacred story, chant, shrines,
altars and grottoes, parables,
and soldiers in camouflage are carrying guns.
What does that say about holy?
How much power it doesn’t have—
Thou shalt not kill crumpled under our feet.
Whose religion would you follow?
And why do they wear camouflage?
We can still see them.
Who are they hiding from?
The guns are bigger than we are.
The tanks are bigger than shrines.
Tear gas canisters, grenade casings
littering graves of our ancestors in the cemetery.
I bow down. You bow to the big shining platter
everyone eats off together. Sit in a circle
for your holy rice. Speak after me.
Holy eggplant, my best angel.

From The Tiny Journalist (BOA Editions, Ltd. 2019) by Naomi Shihab Nye. Copyright © 2019 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Used with the permission of the poet.