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Rashidieh


On the roof
After midnight
She can see her wire-connected world clearly.
Antennas, clotheslines, electrical wires
A jungle of connections
Inside the barbed wire barriers
Separating past from present
Hopes of a future
Buried alongside the living

Before midday she likes to journey underground
To her place of security
A dark damp enclosure of blood, feces and snot
A memory now
Consciously brought into the present
Like the splash of a child jumping into a swimming pool

She brings her visitors here
Nurses from Denmark, doctors from France, journalists from Sweden
Eager to treat this malady
Of homelessness and ennui
She proudly exhibits the blood stains
Knocks on the concrete
And smells its memories on her finger tips
Into the evening

She tells the story of the 40 day siege
Of how rats were eaten in this very place
Out of desperation
She knows the story in three languages
And smiles as she tells the tale of terror to the doctors in despair.
In the evenings she visits the graveyards of martyrs
Placing neat configurations of stones,
Not flowers,
Triangles
Circles
Squares
The perfect geometry of death

And at night
She sits on the roof
Eyes traveling the antennas
Patrolling the alleys below
Barefoot children
Young man with permanent grease stains under their fingernails
playing dominoes
Women with marks of childbirth and loss
Taking in clothes from neighbors’ roofs

Alone in her bed
She finds herself.
A body scarred but untouched
Feet swollen from marching
Tongue thick from preaching
Fingertips moist from their underground journeys

When the generators are turned off
Dominoes packed away
And the whispers of men and women no longer creep down the
olive vines,
She sneaks underground
Closes the hatch over her
Until memory,
Her lover,
wakes her at sunrise. 

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