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Border Blues

Beyond these orchards roars the road, winding

between villages and hills, a writhing asphalt snake,

southward it heaves, then east again, until

it disappears leaving a constant echo in its wake.


Trucks rumble up and down the road, laden with

sand from quarries, rocks and timber. Some are covered

with tarpaulins and even binoculars can only

guess their contents – bulky, ominous, concealed.


Dividing us from them, brothers from cousins,

hard by the road, a wire fence, marked off by

electronic posts, pencils in twenty yard segments

the barrier which, in its way, despite seeming fragility


Shouts louder than a road can understand.  It shouts

‘keep out’,’ no entry’, ‘military zone’ in Hebrew, English,

Arabic.  Here only crows, mountain breeze and ants

cross with impunity, heedless of the signs, the wires, the road.


Signboards pointing to the border still bear the legend

‘The Good Fence’, and now and then a visitor, still

uninformed arrives, asks for directions to the gate where

women smiling behind burqas once peddled halvah


Olives and pastel-colored squares of Rahat Lokum,

their children and ours observing each other curiously

like animals in a zoo.  That was before the war, now gateway,

smiles and kiosks are replaced with concrete walls


While children in their schoolrooms, so close yet not

so close, chant ‘God is Great’, or sing of cypress trees

that grow in Lebanon, unconscious of the irony – the trees,

the birds, the ants and God – don’t really care at all.


             Rahat Lokum – a sweetmeat similar to Turkish Delight

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© Johnmichael Simon



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