A beautiful image of death and rebirth from The Tempest by William Shakespeare:
Full fathom five thy father lies.
Of his bones are coral made.
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Another round of violence in the Middle East broke out while I was on holiday. The death toll in the Gaza Strip has topped 700, last I read. Yesterday, the Israeli army bombed a UN school, killing 15. The wildly asymmetric nature of the conflict makes the Israeli government’s contention that it’s acting in self-defence difficult to accept. Gaza is a large open-air prison camp, surrounded on all sides. Even the sky and the sea are blockaded. The people have no control over their environment – they are subject to the Israeli army at all times. And when anyone resists, it’s a terrible dreadful thing and Israel claims to be under existential threat. The army lashes out indiscriminately, punishing everyone for the actions of a few (in contravention of the Geneva Convention), and hundreds of Palestinians die.
I don’t know what the answer is, but maintaining a prison state right outside its borders doesn’t do Israel itself any good, let alone the Palestinians. It undercuts the notion of Israel as a modern democratic state, and it ensures an endless supply of angry, despairing people who have every reason to hate and fear Israel. I don’t think the conflict will end until the Israeli government and people can find some way to release their death grip on the region and stop holding the Palestinian territories in subjugation. As the controlling power, the solution has to come from them.
Here is today’s poem, Running Orders by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha:
“They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Petra and I had a come to Jesus moment about Father Christmas while we were flying home on Monday. She told me that she’d figured it out, that Father Christmas couldn’t be real because magic isn’t real, and that I had my suspicious “I don’t want to talk about it,” face on when she mentioned it, so she knew she was right. She wanted me to tell her the truth. I said, “Are you sure you want me to tell you?” She said, “Yes. Then I’ll have the story and I’ll have the truth.” So I told her she was right.
She’s happy with the result because she has the best of both worlds now. She can still enjoy the Christmas story which is fun and exciting for her. And she has the proud knowledge that she worked out for herself what the truth of the matter is.
She’s a smart smart girl. And a very astute and observant one. I might have to wear a bag over my face so she can’t read all my expressions!
It’s fascinating to see her developing. To my partial maternal eye, she possesses an impressively incisive and creative intellect and an admirably strong sense of self. I look forward to seeing what she gets up to as she grows.
There’s a week between posts because Petra and I have been in Dunedin hanging with the rellies. We’re home now though. Petra’s back to school. The dog is sticking very close to me. And I am thinking about all the things I need to do and feeling frazzled. So I’m procrastinating for now.
Day 5/5 of three positives:
1) Flying right over Dunedin and seeing the peninsula and harbour and the city itself all spread out below us.
2) Bumping into my cousin’s wife at the Dunedin airport and catching up on the family news.
3) Petra and her cousin Olivia’s pleasure at seeing each other. They took a moment to say ‘hi’ to each other and then got right into some serious play.
Day 4/5 of three positives…
1) Our fire warming the whole house.
2) The lovely librarian at the J’ville library who dispenses hugs to anyone who’s willing.
3) Petra working hard to earn money for Dunedin – she tidied the lounge, cleared and wiped the dining table, and set the table for dinner, complete with candles and a teapot full of water.
Day 3/5 of three positives…
1) Receiving a long affectionate email from a friend who’s far away.
2) Hot water and lemon drinks.
3) Billy Bragg’s cover of The Tracks of My Tears. Brilliant. Just brilliant. Although, I have to admit that Billy Bragg is a bit of an acquired taste…
Over on Facebook a friend of mine tagged me in the ‘list three positives from your day for five days’ meme that’s currently doing the rounds.
I’ve done two days so far and I thought I might just post them here as well to keep the blog ticking over. Petra and I will be going to Dunedin for a week next Tuesday, and I’m busy with the pre-holiday laundry and tidying, which leaves less time than usual for coming up with subjects for the blog.
Here are the first two days:
Day 1/5 of three positives…
1. Miss Petra getting dressed up in her ballet gear and putting on a dance show for me this afternoon.
2. Gorgeous mid-winter weather in Wellington.
3. My new, and greatly improved, haircut.
Day 2/5 of three positives…
1) Taking Pip for a wander round our street in the dark. He’s getting much better on the leash – not quite so much yanking these days.
2) Visiting the local library all by myself tonight.
3) Garlic sprouting and bulbs emerging in our garden. Our winter’s been so mild that everything’s coming up a couple of months early.