I have learned to tap the skin of the pomegranate,
watch the seeds fall into a heap. I have learned
to crack the skin of the olives to remove the bitterness,
to season them for weeks for optimal flavor.
I have stood in a long line with Jews and Arabs
waiting for Abu Hassan’s famous hummus. Together,
we have sat at long tables, every bowl the same –
on the side, raw onion, spicy oil.
I have walked each night from my daughter’s place
through the dark circle of Kikar Hamadina where at dusk
the Filipinos gather with their elderly charges.
And I lack fear on this terrain
where ficus trees line the streets, their aggressive roots
meandering back on their trunks, wandering
beyond anyone’s expectations,
where a sudden downpour turns the summer’s dust into acrid air –
eucalyptus escapes, so do jasmine and henna.
I have learned that argument is what it means to be Israeli.
How could there not be, at the very least, two sides?
I have learned to be foreign and to belong at the same time,
that shalom is everyone’s greeting, that it means peace.
My son-in-law tells me as we look together
on the tree outside of his apartment
that he doesn’t know the difference between
a pigeon and a dove as both arrive on a nearby limb.
Can you see, one is more graceful, I say.
Without further observation, he says, they look the same to me.
Carol Seitchik’s poems appear in the anthology, A Feast Of Cape Ann Poets (Folly
Cove Press). Other poems have appeared in The Poetry Society of Virginia, North
Shore Magazine and the North Shore Poets Forum, and most recently in The Endicott
Review and Heartlodge Press. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Carol is also a visual artist
and visual arts curator working in the New England area.
|TEL AVIV: A PORTRAIT
by Carol Seitchik