Thursday Poem

…. “The first projectile hit the sea wall of Gaza City’s little harbour a little after four o’clock. As the smoke from the explosion thinned, four figures could be seen running, ragged silhouettes, legs pumping furiously along the wall. Even from a distance of 200 metres, it was obvious that three of them were children.
….
“Jumping off the harbour wall, they turned on to the beach, attempting to cross the short distance to the safety of the Al-Deira hotel, base for many of the journalists covering the Gaza conflict.
….
“They waved and shouted at the watching journalists as they passed a little collection of brightly coloured beach tents, used by bathers in peacetime.
….
“It was there that the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors.
….
“As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: “They are only children.” In the space of 40 seconds, four boys who had been playing hide and seek among the fishermen’s shacks built on the wall were dead.” — Peter Beaumont in Gaza City, The Guardian, 16 July 2014

For Mohammed Zeid, Age 15

There is no stray bullet, sirs.
No bullet like a worried cat
crouching under a bush,
no half-hairless puppy bullet
dodging midnight streets.

The bullet could not be a pecan
plunking the tin roof,
not hardly, no fluff of pollen
on October’s breath,
no humble pebble at our feet.

So don’t gentle it, please.

We live among stray thoughts,
tasks abandoned midstream.
Our fickle hearts are fat
with stray devotions, we feel at home
among bits and pieces,
all the wandering ways of words.

But this bullet had no innocence, did not
wish anyone well, you can’t tell us otherwise
by naming it mildly, this bullet was never the friend
of life, should not be granted immunity
by soft saying — friendly fire, straying death-eye,
why have we given the wrong weight to what we do?

Mohammed, Mohammed, deserves the truth.
This bullet had no secret happy hopes,
it was not singing to itself with eyes closed
under the bridge.

by Naomi Shihab Nye
from
Tender Spot: Selected Poems
Bloodaxe, 2008

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