I’m trying not to wax political on this blog. But a poem showed up recently in my in-box that reminded me of Picasso’s painting Guernica, that depicts the bombing of that city during the Spanish Civil War in 1937.
The poem, by fellow Mainer Arnold Greenberg, was written for Passover but shared recently on the occasion of an ongoing event off the coast of Gaza. Apply it to any event—past, present or future.
NO PASSING OVER
by Arnold Greenberg
Even in escape, there’s no escape,
no opening of waters, no Promised Land,
no paradise, no freedom
if the Sinai that was crossed
so long ago is littered now with bones
crumbling in that sand
and broken hearts are screaming anguished cries
and tears from longing eyes
roll down cheeks
looking at the land no longer theirs.
Now, there is no grassy hill to sit on in the setting sun
feeling chosen while the un-chosen run
through burning streets —
fathers with their sons dying in their arms,
mothers weeping on their knees,
neighbors dashing from the doorways
as their homes explode.
And when I taste the bitter herb
my tongue is bitter with this shame
and I cannot look away and celebrate.
I cannot taste the wine
or the sweetness of the honey
when those in Palestine
cannot sip and taste with me
the joy of liberation.
Perhaps, a year will come
when I can click my glass and drink
to freedom and celebrate
in song and prayer, at last,
for what we couldn’t share
for all these years.
Perhaps a time will come
when borders won’t exist
and walls come tumbling down
again like Jericho and no one lives
in shadows while others live in light–
until then, laughter cannot hide this sadness.