Smoke rises on both sides of the border. Plumes of smoke unfurl into a blue sky over Gaza. Ribbons of smoke curl upward over Tel Aviv. The sound of sirens blare, hearts pounding seek safety before the next bomb falls. Where did peace go? Wasn’t it here a moment ago?
Brothers at War
My Israeli brother, why can’t you see me? After the smoke clears and the bombs stop falling, I will still be your brother, my hatred of you for not seeing me only deepening. You are still stealing my bowl of lentils, thinking God won’t see your tricks. Have you forgotten the word for peace— salaam? Why do I feel like I’m talking to the wind, that no one is listening, that you cannot hear my words anymore than I can hear yours over the sound of bombs exploding, that you don’t understand you are killing your own brother? How do you spell love, brother? Can you tell me? Or doesn’t the word exist in your vocabulary?
My Palestinian brother, why can’t you see me? After the sirens fall silent and your rockets stop hitting our homes, I will still be your brother, wishing you had never been born. You are still murdering my brother, thinking no one will see, not even God. Have you forgotten the word for peace— shalom? Why can’t you hear what I’m saying? Is it too much to ask for you to open your ears and hear my words, my wish that one day we might talk to each other like a normal family, like normal brothers, if there is such a thing. That one day we might stop trying to kill each other and listen to what each of us has to say? How do you spell trust, brother? Can you tell me? Will we ever learn to trust each other long enough to see the love in each other’s heart?
Poems ©2022 Bruce Black
All rights reserved
is the author of Writing Yoga (Rodmell Press/Shambhala) and editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project. He received his BA from Columbia University and his MFA from Vermont College. His poems and personal narratives have appeared in Soul-Lit, Poetry Super Highway, Atherton Review, Elephant Journal, Blue Lyra Review, Tiferet Journal, Hevria, Poetica, Jewthink, The Jewish Literary Journal, Mindbodygreen, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and elsewhere. He lives in Sarasota, FL.