Nine Months Old

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Here’s a poem I wrote a couple years ago while living in the Middle East.  It was in the midst of the Israel-Gaza Conflict of 2008-2009.  Living in the Middle East as an American made that conflict the topic of conversation everywhere I went.

I’m nine months old here
With the vocabulary of a two year old
So when I listen to your voices on the radio
I can only pick out a handful of your words
But I don’t need a translator to decipher the emotion caught in your throat
Don’t need an explanation for why you keep repeating
“Gaza,” “Israel,” “Philistines,” “Hamas”
Don’t need a tutor to help me conjugate the pain carried across the airwaves
Silent tears fall in the back of some rusty taxi
And guilt follows me around like some dark shadow
Refusing to disappear like Peter Pan’s clever one
Instead I carry around this crate of remorse
For being born in a country with too many ties to this violence
Too few answers to offer in return
And I trudge through this night with shackles
Linking me to your mother’s cries
And I can’t be free of them
And perhaps
I never should be free of them

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