—Gaza, May 2018
Skin is a border:
arteries and veins like vines
on the posts of the bones.
Tires on fire make a wall
thicker than chain link,
blacker than brick, but softer
than skin—even the wind
can blow it away.
Birds cross borders, and bullets
too, unseen. First the sound,
then the injury. Running,
some carry flags, some just fear,
some the wounded
who end up on a table surrounded
by men in green and blue and brown.
With gloves and blades they cross
into the holy land of the body
to see what can be salvaged, saved.
Those who don’t make it,
do they see themselves leaving
their bodies, rising above
the ones who tried, rising up
through the ceiling, and over the sorry
hospital, houses, and streets?
Do they keep rising like birds,
like smoke, like clouds, like the thinnest air
until dear Earth is but a curved comfort
of green and blue and brown
and white without borders anywhere?
“Unacceptable and inhuman” violence by Israeli army against Palestinian protestors in Gaza [Doctors Without Borders]
Global protests grow after Israeli killing of Palestinian protestors [The Guardian]
Egypt opens a door, and Palestinian residents rush for the exit [The Wall Street Journal]
Matthew Murrey is a poet whose writings have appeared in various journals such as Tar River Poetry, Poetry East, and Rattle. He received an NEA Fellowship in Poetry a number of years ago, and his first book, Bulletproof, will be published by Jacar Press. He is a high school librarian in Urbana, Illinois where he lives with his partner. They have two sons who live in the Pacific Northwest.
This poem was inspired by this photo by Aurelie Baumel/MSF. The photo we’ve used is by Piron Guillame.