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Border Traffic Report

                              Metulla, Israel, March 2014


1. Airborne – southern to northern hemisphere


In some places

on the map or in a receding childhood

you’d be lucky to see a single pelican

in a zoo or illustrated book

filling his greedy sack with fish


Last week they returned – huge flocks of birds

filling the sky over the houses with flapping,

arrowing from some distant Winter – hundreds

and thousands of them lumbering gracefully

under our warming spring clouds


At first we thought the birds were cranes or storks

winging their compasses across the globe, from Africa

to Europe and beyond, our eyes hungry as theirs – a host

of white underbellies against black overcoats

signifying a change of seasons once again from icy months

to refuges of warm and food-filled days


But then we recognized the crooked angled necks and beaks

the weight of their bodies – an unmistakable heaviness

so cumbersome on earth, so weightless in the air

drawing the horizon ever nearer to our eyes


2. By road – Iran, Syria, Lebanon



Across the border huge trucks rumble day and night

carrying their tarpaulined cargoes

we crane our necks at them but cannot make out their contents

whether sand and rocks, bricks, cement

or, shrouded in darkness, something more sinister

wrapped in camouflage, hiding bellyfuls of anger

thousands of miles across the mountains’ rage



2. Pedestrian – Syria, Jordan, Lebanon


Breath catching in our throats we cannot see

but only read about the tired lines of refugees snaking their painful way

from fear and devastation, across the hills and rivers

to mushrooming rows of tents, straw mattresses, handfuls of rice,

some cans of vegetables labeled in languages they cannot read



While we, from this intersection of borders and events

observe the traffic, as somewhere

over the mountains inside a wind-blown bubble of canvas

held in place with kindness, poles and pegs

a hungry infant cries

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© Johnmichael Simon



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