Haviva Pedaya - A MAN GOES

For Subhi Hadidi

A man goes
from Damascus to Paris
whether passing through a tunnel
or slicing through the air
I wouldn’t know
suddenly I saw the East in motion
quivering without a center
I covered the distance of years from Jerusalem to Beer-Sheva
without preparing my things for  an exile
likea prostrate Ezekiel
in a Babylon bed
365 days
his beloved dead and Zion exiled
Abraham went up from Beer-Sheva to Moriah
three days
in his mind binding and unbinding his son
three days slaughtering and weeping
still bound and unbound are we
those weeping and butchering?
Those laughing and butchering?
how they all go
and there is already one who emerged and encroached the city of the dead
is that where we are headed?
while I yearn to be dug out of the graves
long will there be nothing
but life racing backwards
mask-face and my own face
if I were a man imprisoned as a woman
if I were a prayer in terse phrases
if the mountains of Jerusalem were in the deserts of Beer-Sheva
many a desert have I walked
without reaching Mount Moriah
now I feel in my homeland
for suddenly I see how fickle is this land, how disconcerting its tremor
and among my brothers I roam
some going from Iraq to America
some from Lebanon to Nicosia
some from Israel to Palestine
some from Israel to Israel to Israel to Israel
confronting absence for Israel is voided from Israel
you who wanted to be free in your land
pack your things for exile
there is no free man who has not been cast out
am I not a girl
am I not a woman
cast out from man
with neither mother nor father
am I not a person
dispossessed of words
ousted but not in exile
yet in my own land my people
buried not in the desert
but become my coffin in redundancy
exiled not in distance
but in this dust
conquering blood and tears
and choking
a man soars and soars
if with weeping or Vodka
I would not know
will it always be this way in the East
either spirit or soil
in the meantime I prefer to inhabit the word
another home does not yet exist
if it ever did
within my Hebrewness my blindness my Arabesqueness
a music merely being played
my lips move
but my voice unheard
adults cursed and loved in this language
from which I’d been banished from any redemption
“Hebrew speak Hebrew”
while the East still howls