The Deronda Review
THE LAND, THE PEOPLE
poems from the struggle for Judea and Samaria
Song Without Melody, by Theone
End of Day, by Rachel Heimowitz
Moonless Nght, by Rachel Heimowitz
Only a Blanket, by Leah LJ Gottesman
Benot Yaakov, by Vera Schwarcz
Korban Itamar, by Theone
Six Years after Gush Katif, by Vera Schwarcz
Lesson, by Courtney Druz
Grooving the Land, the People, by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Carpool in Efrat, by Rachel Heimowitz
Judean Desert, by Courtney Druz
SONG WITHOUT MELODY
(for two singers)
I hear a siren. (A bird is singing.)
I run for shelter. (I walk in the field.)
I see a plane. (The crops are thirsty.)
It drops a bomb. (I pray for rain.)
A child is killed. (The crops will ripen.)
I hear a siren. (The bird is singing.)
I see a plane. (The crops are thirsty.)
They want to spill (I walk in the field
my blood. of tomorrow.
I hear a siren... (The crops are thirstyÖ)
END OF DAY
by Rachel Heimowitz
In this rocky, sunbaked land
the dayís close
is liquid spice: a wash of
turmeric and cinnamon,
lavender and anise,
the hills open,
the stones turn gold, exposed,
ingots jingling in the pockets
of our forefathers,
rocks, like glowing coals,
breathing and alive, luminous
eyes, turned up and glowing
like a room of schoolchildren
each looking for answers,
anxious to tell
their radiant, ancient stories,
every rock a place to rest your head,
and the olive trees,
standing, bent and wrinkled,
resting their tired elbows
on the rocks and laughing
a rustle at the sun, let us
run our hands over their silvery
hair and whisper their
cooling secrets into our ears,
lead us to the dark damp
places, the cool, clandestine caves
where the urns were tucked
like fairy-tale princesses to
sleep for a thousand years,
were sung to sleep in
the shadowy corners
where someone said, ĎThis
is a secret we must tuck-
in and keep iní,
a secret held while we wandered;
and here we are,
risen, dusty and returned,
in our sandals and our backpacks,
watching the sunís rusty hair
fanned above us,
the mountain goats
raising their ancient, twisted horns
to the windís rattle, a blessing
like a hot breath,
as the day folds over itself
Efrat, Israel, 2011
by Rachel Heimowitz
of the wadi,
like radio signals,
in and out.
I canít tell,
Hebrew, Arabic? Fear
grows in me like static,
up my spine, rising like a wad
in my throat. The stars
behind the hills.
a red marble
the Arab village,
across the fenceless divide.
his sword pointing
at my head. The damn
windows donít lock.
If boys, out
for a good time,
under their t-shirts,
under kafiyas, walk
across my garden. . .
My children asleep
in the house.
I need to feel G-d
(there isnít anything else)
I am alone, windows unlocked,
in the clip, a tired
around my shoulders.
Only a Blanket
by Leah LJ Gottesman
On one Friday night in March, 2011, five members of the Fogel Family of Itamar, a community in Israel, were ruthlessly massacred in their sleep.
A blanket twists and slides
inside its covers,
slinks its way down
your dreams, snags
your escape or,
for one toddler,
saves the air.
on dark houses
resisted probing hands,
each footfall over or under signals
until one handle acquiesced,
yawned open wide,
flesh above swollen breasts,
the whistle of a childís yearning,
the eager gasps of a pre-teen,
extended chords of the father,
slackened lips of the newborn.
The hunters sliced each layer
sawed off the wind,
flooding passages with
Alongside the window,
a couch, used as
a footstool for the
was covered by a blanket
covering a toddler
clinging to a pacifier.
The couch gave way,
the hunters got away
but the blanket covering
the small child
ever so gently
never let go.
by Vera Schwarcz
The fragile shoulders of a raped girl
carry a chain of hope:
we go on, daughters of Dinah ó
the first to be called Bat Yaakov,
the first to grasp the chain of courage,
find sapphires of solace
in crevices of mud
encrusted by blame
We come to seek you Dinah,
on a terrible day when Jerusalem
is burying five holy souls murdered
Imagine a three-month old
We whisper your name,
first of lost Jews
along the tear-studded path
of our return.
Your din stands for judgment,
a witness for us
over thousands of years.
Finally, we glimpse
the hey, a G-dly letter
culminating your fate,
Today, seeking your grave,
I came upon a troop of Benot Yaakov,
some sported pleated skirts,
others prim blue shirts, my sisters
each. One made walls shudder
with her cries.
If you had looked
at the time,
it was the hour
of the Fogel family burials.
I had only one prayer,
one word to add
to that howl:
S.R. Hirsch, Chumash, Comments on Emor, Feldheim 2005, pp758, 761, 769
Al cheit (al "Hate") for the sin which
Father, Udi , committed by consistently observing mitzvoth and celebrating Shabbat with his family in joy and wonder;
Mother, Ruth, committed by nurturing her children and delighting in watching them grow;
Yoav committed by being the eldest son,
Elad committed by running after the bigger boys and wanting to grow up to lay tefillin like them;
Hadas committed in honoring her mother by nursing at her mother's breast.
For all these sins we must offer sacrifice and atone.
The sacrifices have been taken.
(altho' the earthly killer "Al-Hate" has not been purified);
But how do the rest of us atone?.....
Al Cheit (another kind of Yom Kippur liturgy)
For the sin which we committed by evacuating the lands G-d enjoyed us to cultivate and settle;
For the sin which we committed by establishing our homes in the Land of Israel;
For the sin which we committed by building our nation on the shifting sands of Israel;
For the sin which we committed by refusing to give in to the enemies of Israel;
For the sin which we committed by taking up arms to defend ourselves;
For the sin which we committed by confiscating arms from our enemies;
For the sin which we committed by continuing to believe that G-d will redeem the Land of Israel;
For the sin which we committed by dealing fairly with our brothers and neighbors in waits and measures even when they do not deal fairly with us;
For the sin which we committed by joining together as one people united in
For the sin which we committed by believing that G-d will soon put an end to sacrificing the holy and pure ones of our people;
For the sin which we committed by believing that in the end G-d will sacrifice the guilty killer instead of the pure korban.
For the sin which we committed by believing that G-d will redeem Jews all over the world as He redeems the Land of Israel.
For the sin which we committed by believing that we can never understand G-d's Ways;
For the sin which we committed by believing that we can never understand G-d's Time;
And for the sin which we commit by vowing that we will continue to commit all of these sins until G-d tells us to stop..
SIX YEARS AFTER GUSH KATIF
by Vera Schwarcz
Wandering the shuk
a white courtyard
of trellises of yellow peppers,
orchards of tomatoes,
crates of cucumber
which had garnished
the azure symphony
of men and women
In the video room, endless footage
of elders begging for mercy,
to the holy ark,
cookies to soldiers
who weep while dragging
families from their homes.
They march behind Torah scrolls,
minutes before explosions bury
all traces of Jewish life.
Tears come unbidden,
by Courtney Druz
Scrawlings of calcium carbonate are anachronous, therefore absent.
Health risks are known.
The following information
will be presented in alternate form already fading from currency
(just as these markers fade, just as their sharp chemical odoró
though those present will sense immediate bodily threat
at the dustless inhalation.) Notation
of solid on white. Whiteboard
is name for any glossy surface where non-permanent markings can be made.
Thus outside history. The dictated present of expunged photos,
a bloodless fingertip of the Leaderís former comrade suspended
for all time next to a duplicate tree.
Turn the page. Certain words may be sprinkled liberally
with the assumption of shared significance; other words may cause
confusion. If a poet says ďterrorist,Ē says ďmurder,Ē listeners may believe
the dictionary is upside-down. This is acceptable discourse.
Markings for the glittering slick, the appealing cleanliness
kept on ice while they hum to the soft ballads of others.
(Over 11 million high-quality DRM-free songs priced at just 99 cents.
Preview a song before you buy it. No parking when road is snow covered.)
Now for the training in brevity: eliminate facts. Eliminate
thinking about facts, comparing and processing them;
chop off all but the fingerís contact point. Eliminate
inconvenient history. Shoo the dove from the olive tree,
the bloody cardinal from the oak. Shoo the grackle from
the sweetgum, the troublesome bobolink from the crab apple.
Chalk dust on the fingers or palm is a remnant of lines copied.
Once a common elementary punishment, now surpassed.
The victim is not the murderer. The imperfect savior is not the murderer.
The murderer is defined by intention and by effect.
You are allotted one page to twist these words.
A long white hair has fallen across the pages of the answer-book
from the follicle corresponding phrenologically
to the control center of wisdom. The nearness of available water
can remove thirst. The nearness of snow
is blinding: discuss.
You will note the use of Modernist techniques in a Postmodern context.
Thousands of fleeing wings are deafening. 11 million iTunes
are deafening. A bomb planted in your head
is deafening. Pencils down.
Further information is unnecessary. Heads down.
Count down. Timeís up. (Dismissed.)
GROOVING THE LAND, THE PEOPLE
by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Driving to Ariel, native Jews, also our cousins,
Spouses, children, habits, hidden bodies, surreptitious
Agents bother reacting to sworn enemiesí exculpations.
Best ossified, those others, or, turned to salt.
Accreted populations, all prominent white license
Plates, bring my fulminations forward. I flash pink.
Turning up Udi David, once of Gush Katif.
We harmonize, sing ďBack to the Land,Ē
While wadis sprout giant, Torah-built, sukkot.
The klalís ingatheringís become imperative,
Especially as ďleadersĒ sip, sup, sleep with enemies,
Fracture our home, destroy our houses, send us out.
ďSquattingĒ based on faith, on trust, partners
Us with Ha Kodesh Baruch Hu,
Even in modern social systems, in spite of media.
Likewise, Lenny Solomonís ďScenes from a Sealed Room,Ē
Settlements on burned out hills, plus hope, not checkpoints,
Safeguard our sanctioned land, ensure our heritage.
Rocky desolationís no response to atmospheres lit with trouble.
Rather, limestone citadels, sandstone carpets stretching past Ber Sheva,
Shelter, color, announce the demesnes of The Mighty One.
No mufti will forever murmur alien incantations,
Purl against our boundaries, replace veracity with myth.
Fidel servants, we groove this land, we build up its people
CARPOOL IN EFRAT
by Rachel Heimowitz
Six boys, only eleven, fresh
from the pool, sprawl
like cut flowers across
the back of the van;
their heads, folded
over, drip on my leather
seats. I turn past the entrance
to Bethlehem, where cars
marked ďPĒ can clog traffic,
where three boys, no more
than nineteen, in full
combat uniform, greased
faces, helmets of steel,
scuffed Stars of David
on their shoulders, stand
behind cement barriers.
One raises binoculars; one slips
into a crouch. I drive
on. Down the road twenty
more soldiers squat,
their blackened faces drip
like shrubs after a summer
storm. They hold their rifles
steady. One talks into a radio.
Personnel carriers, like swollen
Suburbans stand vigil nearby.
Around a curve, a boy,
perhaps sixteen, on the roadside,
his vest bright
yellow, his pants, forest
green; his hair corkscrews
away like a treetop; a kippa
sits like a nest amongst the curls.
He plays a wooden flute, dances:
just a little jig, just
a step or two. I roll
down my window. I want to catch
a note. I want to hear
that song. But I only gather
the radioís static blast:
ďEmdah Echad, a-vore. Root a-voreĒ
over and over. I turn toward
my terra-cotta town, roll
the window closed as I drive on.
by Courtney Druz
Itís remarkable that the underlying structure
exists independently, was there to be found.
You enter latitude, longitude, time and date.
Every shadow is predictable by the program
if youíve modeled the forms properly.
The whole earth is swept by an accurate sundial;
right now, its shadow is approaching.
This is one of the particular places.
Shallow sand is always renewing itself
from the hillsí pale bones. The calloused whorls
of crumbled rock and scrub recur, confined
by geographical barriers (that is, in contrast
to the paved forests I have known,
their lingering oaks and squirrels of anywhere.)
Youíd think Iím on the moon, all sun and no sun.
But actually, Iím where you think I am.
If I were more adventurous Iíd be lost.
I suppose I already am but for the things here,
some buildings and a bench to sit on.
Iíll have to buy a guidebook for the names
of birds and planted trees. The birds ignore me
but the trees, now fading on the nearest slope,
might observe the progress of these words
growing in shifting colors on the opposite side.
They gray. The hilltop seems a skillful cut-out
of low irregular tree shapes backed with orange.
The shoaled hills are violet, modulating downward
in the spectrum. The wind is picking up.
I better go and give the kids their baths.
I never get to stay for this transition
so complete I donít know how we got here.
Theyíre in bed and Iím back but my focus is gone;
nothingís left for me but muscular wind.
You stand at an ocean, dawn or sunset, thinking
the same thoughts as everyone else, alone.
Something about emptiness does this,
something about darkness too. There is
a psychological term for it, I think.
I think I heard it happens for our benefit
to keep us up in trees, away from predators.
There are lights, though, candle-like, in clusters.
There is the illusion of proximityó
a diamond lit at the end of a long playing field.
The gold lights seem close, like stars seem close
and small, across a densely wrinkled sheet.
Then came the night that blackened the hills
that shadowed the valleys that covered the wadis
that watered the goats that fed the peoples
that served the empire that ate the empire
that ate the empire that ate the empire.
That is a song of children, who are sleeping.
A song of children, who are always at the beginning of history,
who remember (because their memories go forward)
historyís end, the restoration of memory.
It begins with the movement of a few stars
down the distant road. A woodpeckerís beat
and something far and birdlike; a catís cry.
It begins with an erasure of dotted black
at the right edge of vision, a growing spot
like a problem with the eyes. A blue band rising
and the shadow rising into it, a still flickering star
holding on above the diffusing band.
God, this is so quick, the right hills burning
a limn of fine fire along the rim, smoke blooming.
Low ground is forming. The near hill hulks
in inert charcoals, mellowing on the left.
Sky strata build to a more convincing earth.
Iíve missed it again, here now with most of the colors
the way a dream is mostly gone at waking.
What I want is so far beyond my attentiveness.
To alter scales against the crush of distance,
to press against the pressing of these hills.
Soundless, the first drift of birds
flicker like black stars against soft pearl.
Iíve never seen the trees as clearly as now,
lit into their shapes just so
in deep green velvets on the close hill.
Usually their own shadows smudge them,
but under new blue opposite white glow,
they are flat and calm though drawn correctly.
Meanwhile a gold sun has been uncovered
by a smooth shape floating above blue.
Now the missing red tones are laid down
as a hoopoe lands right in front of me,
picking its feathers with a slender beak
and fanning its fantastic crown. Of course
Iíve checked its name by now. The hours repeat,
but the hoopoe has not repeated itself to me.
It leaves me unsure; there were no other witnesses.
The reds are orange. I can no longer look at the sun
and the hills are no longer to be touched;
their flesh is air. The land has subtilized
to a mirage of seashell colors, light only.
The sunís shape is obliterated in light.
The daily land has vanished after an hourís appearance,
replaced now by this unconvincing fluff
too lovely for cynics. But I wonít lie about it.
I donít need to, anyway; the hills are forming again.
Dust is being scraped and mounded smooth.
Colors are dialed up on the western hill;
the east is hidden in a blinding blank.
In between the whole view has yellowed,
not like a faded photograph, but richly
as though through a lens of honey.
White heat imprints itself around long shadows.
The desert is honing hatched and stippled sands
whose contours I once sketched with chalky pastels
while the lavender shadows hid. An even sky
of blue so simple optical specks like sparks
attempt a complication to my vision.
Rocks, dust, powerlines, desolate brush;
on a far stroke of road, slow gleams and blocks.
The near hill edges the sky in easy white;
the horizon puzzles like a gray ocean.
My crisp shadow is so artfully curved,
a deep hole carved from around my feet.
Makeís senseómy head feels like Iím floating
and sinking at the same time. The sunís too strong.
The landscape starts to flatten, pressed down
by the sunís incessent demand, like the presence of children.
Now it is as boring as my palm,
pale and lined; you would think nothing is happening
but really itís the busiest time of day.
The activity is just invisible, lit too well.
It passes quickly, thatís why it looks dead.
The kids are playing nicely for a while
and Iím looking for the birds in my pamphlet.
Millions migrate every spring and fall
across this major flyway, but itís summer.
The ďrock dovesĒ are pigeons but the best source
for a layer of natural sounds through most of the hours.
I should expect that summer means itís late
when shading comes to mold the shapes again.
My shadow is about my true length
and I feel the warm dustís rise and dip
as if beneath my hand. The view is clear.
I can even see some color in the block-shaped cars
and trucks passing up and down the far road.
The shadows have reversed since morning
but not as in a mirror. The shapes are different.
The colors are also transposed though the blind
spot has only moved to the nearer hill.
Iíve been watching for you. Youíre waiting for me
to name the new colors, so Iíll say gold,
but not like metal or sun, more like skin.
Almost the color of my own skin now,
on sea-slate shadows, temporary and possible.