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Old Jaffa Palestine at Sea in the Belly of Israel

Old Jaffa Palestine at Sea in the Belly of Israel


By Genevieve Cora Fraser

I sought sanctuary
Shaken to the core
Within Saint Peter's
Roman Catholic
Church in Old Jaffa
The sign read
Under Franciscan
Custody in the Holy
Land as strains of Old
Satchmo Louie
Armstrong wafted
Along the harbor-side
Between Tel Aviv
And the Jaffa
Clock Tower
Past ancient blue domed
Mosque
Turned Aladin's
Restaurant above
The biblical port
Where Jonah set
Sail and landed
In the belly
Of the whale
I entered
The arched
Hull turned
Asunder
The church
Nave remnant
Of the Holy Roman
Empire Heiliges
Römisches Reich
Of the Frankish realm
Or is it the Holy
Roman
Sea or See
And I say
To myself
What a wonderful
World so disturbed
To have witnessed
At Hawara Checkpoint
The ambulance
Bearing the dying
Grandfather
Met by tear filled
Family begging
For a glimpse
For his entry
Into Nablus
To say goodbye
What harm
To kiss
A dying father
Machine guns
Sealed the threat
Israel has spoken
A Reich unto itself
Such memories
Are hard to escape
As they mix
With the colors
Of the rainbow
So pretty
In the sky
Are also
On the faces
Of the people
Going by
Listening
To the refrain
A tourist
Wearing a Fox
TV tee-shirt
Urinated
In the corner
Of the building
Adjacent
To the church
Though a public
Rest room
Was across
The cobble
Stoned street
I see friends
Shaking hands
Saying How do
You do They're
Really saying
I love you
Louie sang
Loudly
The volume
Maxed
As I knelt
At the railing
Remembering
A childhood
Rosary recitation
Appeals to Christ
Mary and the saints
Martyrs
Having entered
The Salah family
Apartment in Nablus
Punctured with bullets
And missiles
Holes partially
Plastered over
Peak-a-boo
Clothes
Riddled
With submachine
Gun blasts
And the widow
Clad in Muslim skirt
Shirt and shawl
Black cloth
From head to
Toe skin and
Bones mourning
The loss so hard
She could die
Her beloved
Husband precious
16-year old
Handsome boy
People of peace
Diana the daughter
Huddled with brother
Ali
Wide-eyed
Traumatized
As the helicopter
Gunships blasted
Tanks boomed
Snipers shot
And tore
The fabric
Of their lives
Into shreds
I walked
Silently closer
To the sanctuary
Past the Blessed
Mary's peaceful
Repose knelt
Blessed myself
With the sign
Of the cross
I hear babies crying
Satchmo
Intoned
I watch them grow
They'll learn
Much more than
I'll ever know
The door
Leading to the sacristy
Was ajar
A friar in prayer
Book open bearded
Father might I speak
With you of course
He put down his prayer
Book looked up smiled
Yes he said with an Irish
Brogue I relaxed safe
I'm trying to calm
Myself I don't understand
He said I'm feeling
A bit overwhelmed
Concerned go on
It must be hard
For you working here
In the midst
Of such brutality
Oh yes, the troubles
We face
Yes
It's my first visit
I explained
The dregs of the earth
That's the problem
The dregs
The Palestinians
The dregs of the earth
How the Israelis
Can stand them
But Father
The Palestinians
The Muslims
I have met are gentle
Kind accept the Torah
Christ as a Great Prophet
The Muslims
He scowled
Are driving
The Christians
Out stealing
Our churches
Our lands
But isn't that what the Israelis are doing?
Nothing left but the scum of the earth
We would do well to be rid of them
Jesus Christ
Was a Palestinian
I countered
Flushed
With anger
Thank you
For your time
Father
I said plowing
My way back
Through
The sanctuary
The nave
To the exit
Not looking
Back
Never
Looking back
Oh God
Why hast thou
Forsaken
Yes, I think
To myself
What a wonderful
World

*** ENDS ***


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