Journalism In Verse

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The Night the Election Robs Palestinians is Afternoon in America

in Middle East/World by

no, this isn’t about the 2016 election
that I may or may not have taken part of
—but that’s a story for another time—
This is Bibi runs against Gantz:
boy can’t take a loss, so we’ll do a re-election
is what the running headlines should have read.

I want to run and find
a way for the future to
smother me with the hug
of a mother reunited with
her children at the border,
and tell me,
“These borders are in your head.
You’ve made this whole story up.
It’s okay.
Here’s some medicine
that’ll set your mind straight.”

But here we are.

I’m not at the polls for this one,
even if I wanted to
even if the 4.75 million Palestinians
wanted to.
We are not at the polls,
so where’s this democracy we hear of?

Here we are.

Bibi promised that if he
is given more power than he has,
he’ll annex
(read: steal)
the Jordan Valley.
He showed us a map. Not much, eh?
Tell that to the person who’s been
watching the settlement fence get closer
to her grandmother’s home,
waiting for the day she receives an eviction notice
in a language she can recognize but not read.

Here I am.

The night the election robs us
is the afternoon for me in America.
I’m sitting at my desk,
calculating time for a colleague’s
two-week notice, so we can throw her a party,
and I’m writing this
because I want to tell my colleagues
that sometimes, I feel guilty for celebrating
because sometimes
—today is one of those times—
my friends back home aren’t able to
throw a goodbye party to their arrested/murdered/exiled
colleague.
It was last minute.
And sometimes,
I wonder if my home,
the home I have conflicted
feelings about sometimes,
will land on a map one day,
bartered and bargained for,
in a language I never bothered
to learn.
I only learned the language of maps.
Would that be the day
my colleagues
understand
that my land is stolen,
or would they tell me America is my second home,
that I’m not really homeless?

 

________

Hasheemah Afaneh, MPH is a writer and public health professional based in New Orleans. Her work revolves around social justice, health equity, and reflections on the world around her.

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