Seeing both sides


I see my friend Mohammed who came to Britain,
Failing to escape the pressure from his uncles, his brothers, to volunteer for the struggle
He had lived in the very same concrete blocks, a family of ten
Hearing the shells, attending the funerals,
From which the bodies of children are now being brought

Here, he worked in a cheap pizza shop
Sending back half the money he earned, cramped by the hot oven and barely able to move
Three times a shift he had to change his shirt,
His body aching with the pressure – “unbeliever”, “coward” – unable to say how the remittance should be spent,
Tied so tight to the earth which he had never left, and into which he has returned.

And then I think of Mary, the buzzcut Brit who could never decide if she was gay or straight,
Like a butterly she flew from Britain to Holland, from Holland to the US
And somewhere along the way, she decided that she has always been a Jew
She was too Orthodox for New York
And still she flew on

Finally choosing Tel Aviv where she could place her deckchair
High on a hill and cheer the beautiful fireworks
The yellow, the greens, the purples, the blues
All of them fading to such a glorious – Red!
And she was happy.

There is a mid-point, at which the whole world turns,
When yesterday’s excuse is no longer sustainable
And if not now, when?

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