Matthew’s Word

This place to be named for those held and lost,
Those who were driven from their homes or fled,
For those of us not allowed to cross
The border, who might visit for an hour at most
The sacred place, if sick, if we possess a pass.
Named for those shunted from pillar to post,
Sickened by sewage, waste and rot.
No fresh water here. Electricity costly.
The land aches; the mountains roar.
Upon the hills we villagers gather at dusk
To discuss the News, circulate the word,
Weary of seeing and hearing: road blocks; check points;
Of being asked our names over again.
In the dawn light, time has ringed the years
Scored our faces; lost years, gone now.
The land is rugged in places we can’t cultivate,
Mines we can’t mine, quarries we can’t quarry.
We hurry down the winding path to sorrow
To face the daily human failings, the distrust.
Our children learn some English words first.
Yes; please; thank you; I am not a terrorist.
Tonight, we’ll gather to hear of a visit a tourist
Made to the holy land, a place as far from us
As dead sea salts, as close as the new road
We can’t walk upon. We wait upon the young man
Name of Matthew’s word, eager for news of our homeland.
In the early evening before we break our bread
We watch the sun sink in the V of the valley,
We listen to the call for prayer, and then pray:
Pray for years, pray for unmapped villages – no wall.
Tonight, the moon’s face is marbled, the hole
In the salty lake fabled, the stars, In the locked sky, jangled.
Tonight, a father will pass a key to a son who will
Turn; give it to a mother, who will hand it to her daughter.
This is the key to our home. Call out a name;
Gather another who will do the same. Mutatis Mutandis.
Mavi Marmara. Can we forget? Can we remember?