Free Verse · Psalm · Spirituality

Beloved: A Poem for Palestine | Poems that Suck

This is the poem that won the Anita McAndrews Poetry Award

There’s a funny story behind this poem:


It was written in January of 2017 – 1 month after I returned from Palestine the first time. It is the product of a class assignment: I had to write a Psalm using non-traditional language and non-traditional versing. I was PISSED that I had to write this (if any of you know me, there’s two parts of the Bible I cannot stand – Psalms and anything Paul wrote). I put it off for a week, grumbling and bitching about having to do it. I was, additionally, experiencing a major depressive episode at the time and just didn’t have the energy to do it. So the night before it was due, I sat down and wrote this.


Funny how life works out, huh?

You can read it here or below:

Beloved:

You called me to the ends of the Earth,
the place where your breath sighs,
so that I might suffer to find
brotherhood.

I met you at every step, the ochre
Judean sands gritting between my
toes as I tried to match you;
heel to toe.

Your spirit whipping my hair, as
I traced the desolate crescendos
of the South Hebron Hills in the dying
winter light.

I have known the fragile weight of you,
destroyed, in my open arms as despair
swallowed me on the rocky shores of
the Kinneret.

Heard your voice transform from singing
in a sumptuous Arabi to the shrill scream
of terror as I stood, useless, on the rooftops:
Al-Khalil.

I have seen your face in its forms of hurt
and healing; bruised purple, smeared with
blood, swollen; the gift of a crazed soldier
or settler.

Smelled the acrid stench of burning wire,
choking me, stinging my eyes as I trudged
knee deep in filth to bring your children
to kindergarten.

Beloved:

You have called to where my heart throbs
thrice: Fal-a-steen -and I can’t ever hope
to rid myself of the land, the people, or
the life.

You invite me, now, to receive you in
the fruit of the vine, to fill myself
with your sacrifice so that I might match you
heel to toe.