It was the summer the Israelis withdrew, leaving
a landmined no-man's-land of phosphorus orange groves,
blighted with white like the kingdom of the Snow Queen.
We shuddered with each jolt of the road, despite our
ancestral insouciance: This route has been cleared.
We stopped and showed our papers at every checkpoint,
Lebanese Army, Syrian Army, Hezbollah…
The closer we came to the border with Israel, the more
I closed the valves of my attention. I envisioned
the Crusader castle at Sidon—its riot of orange
daylilies—becoming flaming spirits of the dead,
silently screaming in the village wreckage of Qana.
The UN soldiers at the cinderblock outpost were kind.
We showed our papers, and exchanged chipper smiles
as we approached the barbed wire of Palestine. Daddy
pitched his scooped bit of rubble through the chain
as Edward Said had done—but I kept mine clenched
inside my palm until it broke the slippery skin.
A shard lodged in the privilege of my American passport.
Another pierced my damaged heart—surging
in cardiac panic at the helplessness of history.
Copyright 2020 Angele Ellis (forthcoming in the anthology Show Us Your Papers published by Main Street Rag)